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Second Edition, Revised 

Clinton Rossiter 

Foreword by Ccorge F. Will 




Estate of Clinton Rossiter 
Copyright© 1955, 1962 by Clinton Rossiter 

Price Rs 35 00 

Published by Mrs Usha Raj for Kalyani Publishers and 
Printed by Mohan Makh^tani at Rekha Printers Pj-jvate LinuJed 
New Delhi-110020 

To the gentle memory of 

Frederic T. Wood 






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skeptical about the power of mere truth to reform a naughty 
world Surveying the littered landscape of America's re- 
cent social history, it is not hard to discern events that lent 
conservative truth a helping hand The Crcat Society legis- 
lative initiatives were quickly perceived (fairly or unfairly) 
as having promised much more than the government was 
competent to deliyer The Vietnam War and Watergate 
deepened skepticism about the competence of government, 
and stimulated skepticism about the good motives of gov- 
ernment The turmoil of the years 1965 (the Watts riot) 
through 1975 (the fall of Saigon) Induced in many people 
a conservative insight the crust of civilization Is thin, and 
the traditions of civility arc brittle Unrest on campuses, 
and the intrusion of federal "affirmativ e action" and other 
regulations into academic life, helped bring forth a con- 
servative intellectual movement 

But history is the history of ideas — of mind — not of 
autonomous events shaping minds The lustory of con- 
servatism in America is at least as confused as the history 
of almost everything else in America and his become more 
confused since the ranks of conservatives have begun to 
grow rapidly This country takes ideas, and the words that 
convey them, seriously The ideas and vocabulary of Ameri- 
can politics derive directly from the liberal-democratic 
tradition of the eighteenth century It sometimes seems that 
many American conservatives are unreconstructed “classic" 
or “nineteenth-century" liberals who would be recognized 
as such in a European context Furthermore, this country 
was founded by liberal gentlemen who made a conserva- 
tive revolution Many of the most revered figures of the 
liberal tradition, from Jefferson on, were temperamentally 
conservative, and conservatives are inclined to consider 
temperament as important as doctrine in politics 

Writing this book was for Rossiter a somewhat thankless 
task — he certainly got little thanks from many conservatives 
He had to impose a semblance of order on a disorderly 
jumble of disparate hut related impulses, and he had to 
make explicit the implicit relationships between kinds of 
conservatism To do this, he adopted a latitudmanan ap- 
proach to defining conservatism This exasperated those 


conservatives who regarded conservatism less as a political 
program for winning and wielding power than as a church 
militant more devoted to preserving the purity of its doc- 
trine than to converting the world 

Among those who have been placed in the conservative 
tradition are Alexander Hamilton, among the architects of 
national power, and Albert Jay Nock, the author of a rev- 
erent biography of Hamilton's great rival, Thomas Jefferson, 
Jefferson, the advocate of decentralization, and his rival, 
John Marshall, whose jurisprudence consolidated federal 
power., Andrew Camegje, industrialist, and the Southern 
'‘agrarians,” critics of industrial civilization, John C Calhoun 
and William Fitzhugh, South Carolinians whose doctrines 
about states’ rights and slavery helped produce the Con- 
federacy, and Lincoln, whose thought (with not a little help 
from the Union Army) defeated the Confederacy, Theodore 
Roosevelt, an inventor of the modem Presidency, and Robert 
Taft, who sought the office by promising that he would 
conduct it differently Any definition of conservatism 
elastic enough to encompass Ayn Rand had better find 
room for the Walter Lippmann who wrote The Public 
Philosophy (1935) 

The Western liberal tradition has many saints— Locke, 
Paine, Jefferson, Mill, to name just four — but conservatism 
111 the modem age has one fountainhead Edmund Burke 
Among America’s Founding Fathers, John Adams was the 
closest approximation to a Burkean Since then, as Rossiter 
knew, traditional conservatism has often been in the custody 
of literary rather than political persons Herman Melville, 
Henry Adams, Paul Elmer More, Irving Babbitt, William 
Faulkner, James Gould Cozzens, and, today, Herman 
Wouk and Walker Percy 

The preeminence of Burke in the Western conservative 
tradition is (or should be) a bit embarrassing for those 
American conservatives who seem to think that conserva- 
tism is capitalism, no more, no less Burke knew that eco- 
nomic thmlang, although necessary, is too thin a gruel to 
serve as a political philosophy He thought that economic 
reasoning encouraged a desiccated rationalism Inappropriate 
to a rounded understanding of the life of society (That is 



probably why in a particular denunciation he lumped 
“economists" with “sophisters” and “calculators ") Thus it is 
strange that conservatism twice (in the Cilded Age and 
again today) has come perilously close to disappearing into 
ail economic doctrine And it is passing strange that this 
doctrine— laissez-faire capitalism — should be most skillfully 
advocated by a scholar (Milton Friedman) who punctili- 
ously notes that he is not a conservative at all but a classic 
“Manchester” liberal 

The natural (by which I mean Burkean) conservative 
dubiousness about politics controlled by abstractions is 
admirable, but some American conservatives added, for a 
while, a less wholesome suspicion of ideas, or at least ideas 
other than a particular economic doctrine There were three 
reasons for this First, by identifying themselves so 
thoroughly with the American enterprise system, and by 
ascribing so much good to the entrepreneurial impulse, 
conservatives came to distinguish too emphatically between 
people of thought and people of action, and to identify too 
much with the latter Second, respect for free markets as 
rational allocators of resources became, for some conserva- 
tives, an almost irrational faith in the solution of all social 
problems through spontaneous, voluntary cooperation in 
markets This produced disparagement of political ideas, 
which conservatives associated with government planning 
and direction Third, conservatives thought intellectuals had 
a vested interest m disparaging markets because markets 
work so well without the supervision of intellectuals How- 
ever, in the twenty years since Rossiter's revised edition 
appeared, the intellectual landscape has changed a lot 
There are many more conservative Journals, organizations, 
and columnists, and liberalism seems (not least to many 
liberals) to be intellectually tuckered out 

It would be quixotic, not to say confusing, to try to pull 
the American usage of the word "conservatism" into line 
with traditional usage in the Western political tradition 
European conservatism has generally been defined m 
terms of historical phenomena that have httle if any rele- 
vance to American experience These phenomena include 
clericalism and established churches, attempts to preserve 


well-defined hierarchies of social classes, resistance to 
popular sovereignty, and disdain for commerce 

The way Americans use the word “conservatism" strikes 
Europeans os peculiar They see Americans packing into 
the idea of conservatism some ideas that are, if not flatly 
incompatible, at least m tension with it 
Truth be told, contemporary conservatism sometimes is 
as confusing as it is vigorous Some persons say that their 
conservatism primarily concerns governmental due process 
They emphasize judicial restraint and federalism, and con- 
tend that conservatism is as much about the correct alloca- 
tion of governmental powers as it is about the advancement 
of particular policies Others argue that libertarian social 
policies that expand commercial and personal freedom, 
whethc r by legislation or litigation, are the essence of con- 
servatism Still others say that the basic conservative 
criticism of modem society is that there is altogether too 
much freedom — for abortionists, for pomograpbers, for 
businesses trading with the Soviet Union, for young people 
exempt from mandatory national service 

A problem discerned by Rossiter (and Peter Viereck, and 
others who consider themselves conservatives) is an inco- 
herence in conservatism that is closely identified with free- 
market economics The severely individualistic values, and 
the atomizing social dynamism of a capitalistic society con- 
flict with the traditional and principled conservative con- 
cern with traditions, among other things Those other things 
include the life of society m its gentling corporate exis- 
tence — m communities, churches, and other institutions that 
derive their usefulness and dignity from their ability to 
summon individuals up from individualism to concerns 
larger and longer-lasting than their self- interestedness 
There is a sense in which the current phase of conserva- 
tism’s history opened in i960 A Democratic candidate was 
elected to follow Dwight Eisenhower, who was considered 
highly unsatisfactory by conservatives, many of whom now 
know better And In i960 a freshman senator from a state 
with three electoral votes published The Conscience of a 
a trsct tltst brcsme, for s th? ds&twtg 

document of the conservative movement In it Barry Cold- 


water said "The laws of God, and of nature, have no date- 
line The principles on which the Conservative political 
position is based have been established by a process that 
has nothing to do with the social, economic and political 
landscape that changes from decade to decade and century 
to century ” 

"Nothin^’? Surely most conservatives would insist that 
conservatism has everything to do with prudent accommo- 
dation to perpetually changing social, economic, and 
political landscapes, and that the essence of unconservative 
approaches to politics is the attempt to apply fixed doctrine 
to a world forever in flux Goldwater said that a proper 
conservative’s overriding concern “will always be Are we 
maximizing freedom?' But other conservatives would 
emphasize that the distinguishing virtue of the conservative 
mind is suspicion of politics organized around one single 
overriding concern, because too much is apt to get over- 
ridden The late Alexander Bickel of the Yale Law School, 
the most subtle American interpreter of Burke, emphasized 
Burke’s abhorrence of doctrines plucked from the air with- 
out reference to traditions and other important conditions 
Rights, Burke said, are defined “in balance between differ- 
ences of good, in compromises sometimes between good 
and evil, and sometimes between evil and evil Political 
reason is a computing principle adding, subtracting, 
multiplying, and dividing, morally and not metaphysically, 
or mathematically, true moral denominations * 

Rossiter wrote his book a quarter of a century before 
Ronald Reagan was inaugurated Before conservatism be- 
came interesting to a large public, Rossiter understood that 
conservatism in America is a rainbow of persuasions His 
great service to America's understanding of itself, and con- 
servatives’ understanding of themselves, was in arguing that 
the conservative tradition is less sharply defined than most 
people think — and less exclusive than some conservatives 
seem to wish it were Rossster’s inclination to count, for 
example, Adlai Stevenson in the conservative tradition con- 
vinced many that Rossiter was construing conservatism so 
broadly that “conservative’ would become a classification 
that would not classify it would include almost everyone 


But when one considers some of the people and policies 
that have bubbled to the top of the Democratic Party since 
Stevenson’s day, Rossiter’s argument seems less strained 
than it seemed when the partisan passions of the fifties still 
clouded understanding The question of whether this or 
that person shall be counted among America's conservatives 
is less important than the central point of Rossiter's book, 
which is that American conservatism is an older, deeper, 
broader, and more attractive stream than many people 
think There are many currents in the conservative river, a 
fact that has not always pleased some who fancy them- 
selves conservatives and who chensli the cozy purity of the 
"movement” (as they understand it) more than they desire 
influence and responsibility But as American conservatism 
has grown in political strength and intellectual confidence, 
conservatives have become less sectarian and more com- 
fortable with the complexity of conservatism’s Intellectual 
pedigree Rossiter’s book should now receive a less chilly 
reception than it met with fiom some conservatives in 1955 
John Dos Passos, who came to conservatism after a mis- 
spent youth, once wrote “in time of change and danger, 
when there is a quicksand of fear under one’s reasoning, a 
sense of continuity with generations before can stretch like 
a lifeline across the scary present ” I do not know when Dos 
Passos expressed that impeccably conservative sentiment, 
but it is certainly germane to the scary present Conserva- 
tism is a tributary that has become a powerful part of the 
mam current of American intellectual life Clinton Rossiter's 
explanation of wheie ronservatism has come from contrib- 
utes to a sense of continuity, not only for conservatives 
but for all Americans who understand that ideas have 


I An Introduction to Conserva- 
tism, or the Vocabulary of 

Ri ght and Left 3 

I] The Conservative Tradition, or 
Down the Road from Burke to 
Kirk 20 

III Conservatism and Liberalism in 

the American Tradition, or 
How to Have the Best of Two 
Possible Worlds 67 

IV American Conservatism, 1607- 

1865, or Three Cheers for the 
Federalists and One for Cal- 
houn 97 

V American Conservatism, 1865- 

1945, or the Great Train Rob- 
bery of American Intellectual 
History 128 

VI American Conservatism in the 

Ace of Roosevelt and Eisen- 
hower, or the Search for Iden- 
tity m the Welfare State 163 


Tire Conservative Minority, or 
wttft Edmund Burfce m Darkest 



Tire Future of American Con- 

servatism, or a Modest Vote of 
Thanks for the Thankless Per- 






Conservatism in America 




The Conservative Minority, or 
with Edmund Burke in Darkest 



The Future of American Con- 
servatism, or a Modest Vote of 
Thanks for the Thankless Per- 






Conservatism in America 



o n 

The Vocabulary 
of Right and Left 

Ovx or the many wonders of the post-war years has been 
the revival of conservatism as a vigorous, self -conscious 
force in American life If hardly as startling in impact as 
the onslaught of television, the rush for the suburbs, the 
reach into space, or the assault on segregation, this revival 
has been an event of much consequence in both the harsh 
world of the politicians and the bright heavens of the In- 

While the reappearance of conservatism may be some, 
thing of a wonder, it is the land of wonder for which there 
is an obvious and adequate explanation Toward tf* ^ 
of FnnlLn D Roosevelt's second term we began to move, 
as we had always moved after a season of change and re! 
form, into a season of tnsrt xn and ccnwhdatioa. The en- 
suing years of prosperity and danger, cl triumph and fnjj. 
txaOon, carried us even farther away from the LbenUn, 
of the 1030 '*. by 1950 w were ready for at \rx n , 
modest dose of ccnsen-atiim. Wearied by twts decade of 


Jug}) adventure, we wanted to rest for a spell and take 
new bearings Menaced by a frightful foe, we became 
testily defensive about the way of life the foe despises 
Raised by toil, imagination, and "a little bit of luck to 
unexampled well-being, we began to behave like men 
with something substantial to be conservative about^ 
'Creeping conservatism" rather than "creeping socialism 
was the grand trend of the 1950 s By the middle of the 
decade we were, as much as restless America ever can 
be, ft conservative country 

If we are not quite so conservative a country today, we 
are none the less a country in which conservatism helps 
visibly to set the style in life and politics The signs of tins 
conservatism are everywhere about us After generations 
of exile from respectability, the word itself has been wel- 
comed home with cheers by men who, a few short years 
ago, would sooner have been called arsonists than con- 
servatives Politicians, columnists, businessmen, and edi- 
tors shout the slogans of the revival, the campuses shelter 
tnen who find their inspiration in Colend ge and Burke 
rather than in Whitman and Jefferson, and a self-pro- 
claimed conservative (of the "dynamic" variety, to be 
sure) has only recently finished off the most crowd-pleasing 
eight years that any President has ever spent in the White 
House The purveyors of the Continental have appealed to 
C Wnght Mills’s power elite to experience "the thrill of 
being conservative", the purveyors of obscurantism and 
racism (now packaged as “anti-communism”) are exploit- 
ing the fear of being radical, and it is doubtful whether 
John Dewey could be elected to a single school board in 
the United States today The tide of American conserva- 
tism runs in confusing patterns, but few will now dany 
that it runs deep and strong If it is not the dominant 
current of American life, it Is most certainly a power- 
ful one, and it calls for an understanding that it ha* 
hitherto been denied both by those who ore floating with 
It and by those w ho would like to dam it up 

This book u the result of ray own quest for an under- 
standing of American conservatism, and I hope that it may 
serve as a guide to others who are anxious to make the 


quest for themselves It is primarily a study of the political 
theory of American conservatism — of the principles that 
have inspired our conservatives in the past, that appear to 
inspire them m the present, and that are likely to inspire 
them in the future Yet it is also a study of political prac- 
tices, for conservatives, like other men, cannot always 
be known by the principles they cry aloud Our search is 
for the essence of American conservatism, which, like all 
conservatisms, finds expression in immanent institutions 
rather than in transcendent ideas 

It would be pleasant if we could go directly upon that 
search, but we cannot leap o\er the obstinate fact that 
conservatism is one of the most confusing words m the 
glossjiy of political thought and oratory Indeed, it could 
well have been "conservatism” that Justice Holmes had in 
mind when he WTote, with characteristic felicity, "A word 
is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin 
of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and 
content accord ing to the circumstances and time in which 
it is used ” One need not spend more than an hour with 
the literature of the revival to realize that few words are 
quite so variable in color and content The failure of Ameri- 
cans to agree on the meaning of ‘'conservatism” has dis- 
torted opinion and cramped discussion of some of the most 
pressing issues of our tune Small wonder that several 
leading political theorists have proposed that conservatism, 
along with its partner-ro-confusion liberalism, be sold for 

Words, however, are not easily scrapped, and even if 
these wise men could agree upon or coin an acceptable 
substitute — an unlikely prospect — the rest of tis would 
doubtless go nght on using a word that is, after all, an 
extremely useful tool when properly handled I have Ined 
too long with "conservatism" and have heard too many 
thoughtful men wrangle o\cr its meaning to launch this 
study without stating my own definitions and begging the 
reader to agree with them for the duration of these pages 

Before I stale them, we should perhaps take notice of 
— and thus put safely out of the way — some of the popu- 


lar uses of “conservatism," winch has become in modem 
America, as it was in Macaulay’s England, "the new cant 
word " Words Idee “cautious,” "prudent,” "stodgy,” and 
"old-fashioned” have gone out of favor in our^ daily 
speech Everything and everybody is “conservative” these 
days the football team that stays on the ground, the in- 
vestor who prefers General Motors to Wildcat Oil, the 
skipper who takes a reef m a twenty-knot breeze, the 
young man who wears white button-down shirts instead 
of Harry Truman Specials, the other young man who sends 
in cash rather than a check to NAACP, the publisher 
who never takes a flier without balancing it with two solid 
textbooks, the collector who prefers Wyeth to Kuniyoshi 
or even Klee to Pollock While no one can object to these 
popular uses, which doubtless bring comfort to the users, 
they must not be permitted to obscure the really impor- 
tant connotations of "conservatism" in the language of poli- 
tics and culture There are, I believe, four such connota- 
tions with which students of American conservatism must 
be fully conversant 

The first denotes a certain temperament or psycho- 
logical stance. Temperamental conservatism is simply a 
man's “natural” disposition to oppose any substantia! 
change in his manner of life, work, and enjoyment Psy- 
chologists agree generally that all human beings exhibit 
conservative traits to some degree at some time in their 
lives, and in most men these appear to be dominant The 
important traits in the conservative temperament, all of 
them largely non-rabonal in character, would seem to be 
habit, inertia, fear, and emulation 

Habit is the disposition to do the same things m the 
same way, especially if one has learned to do them skill- 
fully by constant repetition Habit among humans is 
largely but not completely a product of culture, a sign that 
the individual has worked out an adjustment with his en- 
vironment William James considered it "the enormous 
flywheel of society, its most precious conservative agent 
It alone is what keeps us all within the bounds of ordi- 

Human beings, like matter, prefer to retain their "state 



of rest or of uniform rectilinear motion so long as - . . 
not acted upon by an external force * Inertia calls for no 
exertion, while innovation, as Thorstem Veblen wrote m 
his Theory Of the Leisure Class, “involves a degree of 
mental effort— a more or less protracted and laborious 
effort to find and keep one’s hearings under the altered 
circumstances ” Veblen, characteristically, went on to ex- 
plain the “conservatism of the poor’ in these terms, as- 
serting that “progress is hindered by underfeeding and 
excessive physical hardship ” There is little reason to ar- 
gue with this distressing observation, but we may find 
inertia m the reluctance of men in all classes and situations 
— and even more obviously women — to expend extra 
effort to meet the problems of change One important ele- 
ment in the intensified conservatism of old age is the pro- 
gressive reduction of energy and growth of inertia The 
"conservatism of ignorance," the bane of social reformers 
through all the ages, can also be explained m terms of 

Fear is both an instinctive and culture-determined ele- 
ment m the psychology of conservatism, as such it takes 
the shape of anxiety, guilt, or shame Fear of the unknown 
and unexpected, fear of the unconventional and irregular, 
fear of the group’s disapproval and one's own weaknesses 
■—these and a thousand other fears persuade a man to be 
conservative The most important fear of all in shaping 
the conservative temperament is the fear of change, 
which dislocates, discomforts, and, worst of all, dis- 

Emulation is a product of both a fear of alienation 
the group and a craving for its approval Appearing m de- 
veloped societies as the desire for respectability, it leads 
men to acquiesce in the status quo and conform to the 
standards of their group “To uphold the old" wrote A B 
Wolfe, “to abide by the established, to refrain from much 
criticism of things as they are, to think none but conven- 
tional thoughts— these art- the avenues to day-by-day 
respectability," and thus, it should be added, to peace and 

The social importance of the conservative temperament 


needs no demonstration When men gather into group*' 
as they have no choice but to dc>. this temperament be- 
comes essential to both survival and progress Without 
it men cannot hope to solve such ever-present problems 
as procurement of food and shelter, division of labor, 
maintenance of law and order, education, and procreation 
Without it they cannot find the release from tension and 
insecurity that permits them to engage In creative thought 
and adventurous activity Individual men and entire so- 
cieties both rely heavily on the conservative temperament, 
the “natural"* desire for security, safety, and peace 
The “conservatism of possession” is what many men 
seem to have m mind when they describe a person or 
argument or course of action as conservative Possessive 
conservatism is the attitude of the man who has something 
substantial to defend against the erosion of change, 
whether it be his status, reputation, power, or, most com- 
monly, property — and it need not appear "substantial 
to anyone but him This is not a posture struck only by the 
well-placed and well-to-do The even or at least endur- 
able tenor of the possessive conservative’s existence de- 
pends largely on what he has and holds, threats to his 
property or status are threats to his interests, routine, and 
comfort tale temperamental conservatism, the conserva- 
tism of possession is a self-centered, non-speculative 
frame of mind opposed to change of any type and from 
any direction It is only incidentally an attitude toward 
social and political reform The possessive conservative 
looks on new trends and tastes and on proposals of re- 
form as threats, not to the community, but to his place in 
it It is conceivable, if not very probable, for him to be a 
man with an essentially radical temperament. In most con- 
servatives possession and temperament fuse into a for- 
midable bias against irregularity and dislocation 

The third and most common use of this word is to de- 
scribe what I must cal], for want of a handier phrase, prac- 
tical conservatism This is the conservatism of tempera- 
ment and possession operating in a new dimension, the 
community, but not on the higher plane of speculative 
thought It is the attitude of the man who has looked be- 


yond his own comings and goings and has recognized, 
however fuzaly, that he is a member of a society worth 
defending against reform and revolution He recognizes 
further that such defense calls for something more than 
holding his own place and property He has pushed be- 
yond the Erst two conservatisms and is prepared to op- 
pose disruptive change m the legal, political, economic, 
social, religious, or cultural order The practical conserva- 
tive has managed to nse some distance above his own in- 
terests, to sublimate the meaner urges into devotion to his 

The complexity of traits that shapes this attitude in- 
cludes habit, inertia, fear, emulation, and the urge for se- 
curity and secure possession, but two things have been 
added in sufficient measure to transform it into a higher 
order of conservatism the sense of membership m a com- 
munity and a dislike or fear of political and social radical- 
ism What has not been added is the urge to reflect The 
practical conservative’s devotion to his community, it 
should be noted, is neither a cause nor an effect of con- 
sidered thought Practical conservatism is just that a sense 
of satisfaction and identity with the status quo that may 
be classed only by extreme courtesy as a philosophy or 
tradition or faith Most men adopt simple, non-speculative 
attitudes toward society and its problems, and most con- 
servatives are therefore practical conservatives Many 
such men are hardly conscious of their conservative bent, 
many, especially in America, deny that they are conserva- 
tives at all Yet all are firmly in the ranks of those who are 
satisfied with things as they are and distrust the propo- 
nents of sweeping change 

The last and highest kind is philosophical conservatism 
The philosophical conservative subscribes consciously to 
principles designed to justify the established order and 
guard it against careless tinkering and determined reform 
His conservatism is explained m intellectual as well as psy- 
chological, social, and economic terms Nurture has joined 
with nature to make him the man he is He is conscious of 
the history, structure, ideals, and traditions of his society, 
of the real tendencies and implications of proposals of re- 



form, and of the importance of conservatism in maintain- 
ing a stable social order He is aware that he is ® con- 
servative, and that he must therefore practice a conserva- 
tive politics This awareness of his nature and mission is to 
a substantial degree the result of hard thinking under radi- 
cal pressure, he has examined his principles, candidly if 
not always enthusiastically, and found them good Ihs 
loyalty to country projects into the past, and his sense of 
history leads him to appreciate the long and painful proc- 
ess through which it developed into something worth de- 
fending Moreover, his loyalty is so profound that he is 
ready to transcend the conservatism of possession by suf- 
fering pnvation and deprivation, and a large dose of un- 
popularity, in defense of cherished institutions and values 
Awareness, reflection, traditionalism, and at least some 
degree of disinterestedness — these are the qualities that 
distinguish the genuine conservative from all others who 
bear this label He is a rare bird m any country, an even 
rarer one m this, and as he is rare, so is he precious — no 
less precious, I would insist, than that other rare bird, the 
genuine liberal His leadership, both active and intellec- 
tual, can alone transform a confused mass of practical con- 
servatives into a purposeful conservative movement It is 
with this brand of conservatism, especially with the 
shapes, both classic and grotesque, that it has assumed 
in America, that we are chiefly concerned in this book. 

The next step toward reducing some of the confusion 
that surrounds conservatism is to distinguish it, if -only 
crudely, from other isms This can be most readily ac- 
complished by treating conservatism as an attitude toward 
social change and political reform, and by fixing its posi- 
tion on file well-worn but serviceable spectrum that runs 
from left to right We shall return later to the question of 
what distinguishes conservatism as a system of political 
thought from liberalism or radicalism or any other ism 
Let us assume a community m which government is 
constitutional, society and the economy are well-struc- 
tured, science and technology are active, and men are at 
liberty to propose and oppose reforms designed to meet 


the problems of an evolving way of life. I suggest that 
within this community, of which there are many examples 
in the Western world, we can find at least seven distin- 
guishable attitudes, especially toward change that is 
to be effected or sealed by positive reform 

Several words of caution should precede the listing of 
these isms While they might easily be compressed into 
five, three, or even two categories and as easily expanded 
into a dozen, there is a certain useful logic to the political 
spectrum 1 am proposing They proceed from left to right, 
not along a straight line but around the nm of a circle, so 
that the first and seventh categories, when viewed from 
the third and fourth, are the closest of neighbors The fine 
of division between any two of them is in fact no line at all 
but an imperceptible gradation, and within each category 
there are any number of possible minor deviations Within 
each there are also many degrees of knowledge and con- 
sciousness, a man may have come to one of these views 
through the hardest land of thinking, or he may hold to it 
out of ignorance and cussedness 

These, then, are the attitudes with which men look 
upon change and reform in an established way of life, 
whether in its laws, customs, constitution, ideals, culture, 
economic arrangements, class structure, educational sys- 
tem, religious institutions and creeds, or in all the complex 
.relations of man to man 

Revolutionary radicalism insists that inherited institu- 
tions are diseased and oppressive, traditional values dis- 
sembling and dishonest, and it therefore proposes to sup- 
plant them with an infinitely more just and benign way of 
life So sweeping is its commitment to the future, so un- 
'vdlrng is it to brook delay, that it is prepared to force 
entry into this future by subversion and violence Its atti- 
tude toward the social process is simple and savage it 
means to disrupt this process as quickly and completely as 
possible in defiance ol all rules of the game, which are, in 
any case, monstrous cheats 

Radicalism, too, is dissatisfied with the existing order, 
committed to a blueprint for thoroughgoing change, and 
thus willing to initiate deep-cutting reforms, but its pa- 



form, and of the importance of conservatism in maintain- 
ing a stable social order He is aware that he is a con- 
servative, and that he must therefore practice a conserva- 
tive politics This awareness of his nature and mission is to 
a substantial degree the result of hard thinking under radi- 
cal pressure, he has examined his principles, candidly if 
not always enthusiastically, and found them good His 
lojalty to country projects into the past, and his sense of 
history leads him to appreciate the long and painful proc- 
ess through which it developed into something worth de- 
fending Moreover, his loyalty is so profound that he is 
ready to transcend the conservatism of possession by suf- 
fering privation and deprivation, and a large dose of un- 
popularity, m defense of cherished institutions and values 
Awareness, reflection, traditionalism, and at least some 
degree of disinterestedness — these are the qualities that 
distinguish the genuine conservative from all others who 
bear this label He is a rare bird in any country, an even 
rarer one in this, and as he is rare, so is he precious — no 
less precious, I would insist, than that other rare bird, the 
genuine liberal His leadership, both active and intellec- 
tual, can alone transform a confused mass of practical con- 
servatives into a purposeful conservative movement It Is 
with this brand of conservatism, especially with the 
shapes, both classic and grotesque, that it has assumed 
in America, that we are chiefly concerned in this book. 

The next step toward reducing some of the confusion 
that surrounds conservatism is to distinguish it, if-only 
crudely, from other isms This can be most readily ac- 
complished by treating conservatism as an attitude toward 
social change and political reform, and by fixing its posi- 
tion on the well-worn but serviceable spectrum that runs 
from left to right We shall return later to the question of 
what distinguishes conservatism as a system of political 
thought from liberalism or radicalism or any other i*m 
Let us assume a community in which government is 
constitutional, society and the economy are well-struc- 
tured, science and technology are active, and men are at 



the problems of an evolving way of life I suggest that 
Within this community, of which there are many examples 
m the Western world, we can find at least seven distin- 
guishable attitudes, especially toward change that is 
to be effected or sealed by positive reform 

Several words of caution should precede the listing of 
these isms While they might easily be compressed into 
five, three, or even two categories and as easily expanded 
into a dozen, there is a certain useful logic to the political 
spectrum I am proposing They proceed from left to right, 
not along a straight line but around the rim of a circle, so 
that the first and seventh categories, when viewed from 
the third and fourth, are the closest of neighbors The line 
of division between any two of them is m fact no line at all 
but an imperceptible gradation, and within each category 
there are any number of possible minor deviations Within 
each there are also many degrees of knowledge and con- 
sciousness, a man may have come to one of these views 
through the hardest land of thinlang, or he may hold to it 
out of ignorance and cussedness 

These, then, are the attitudes with which men look 
upon change and reform in an established way of life, 
whether in its laws, customs, constitution, ideals, culture, 
economic arrangements, class structure, educational sys- 
tem, religious institutions and creeds, or in all the complex 
relations of man to man 

Revolutionary radicalism insists that inherited institu- 
tions are diseased and oppressive, traditional values dis. 
semblmg and dishonest; and it therefore proposes to sup- 
plant them with an infinitely more just and benign way of 
life So sweeping is its commitment to the future, so un- 
willing is it to brook delay, that it is prepared to force 
enby into this future by subversion and violence Its atti- 
tude toward the social process is simple and savage it 
means to disrupt this process as quickly and completely as 
possible in defiance of all rules of the game, which are, in 
any case, monstrous cheats 

Radicalism, too, is dissatisfied with the existing order, 
committed to a blueprint for thoroughgoing change, and 
thus willing to initiate deep-cutting reforms, but its pa- 



tience and peacefulness set It off sharply from the revo- 
lutionary brand It seems to be In much less of ft hurry, 
probably because it has come to a less desperate conclu- 
sion about the state of affairs, and it Insists that It "all 
reach Utopia along the paths of peace In any cose, It 
draws the hnc of allowable action short of subversion and 

Any man, even the committed conservative, may engage 
in conduct that Is radical in appearance or results He 
may be driven to kill, steal, or otherwise act in violent dis- 
regard of law and convention, he may strike a radical 
posture toward one particular institution, such as organ- 
ized religion, or one particular Ideal, such as freedom of 
expression, he may pursue his conservative ends relent- 
lessly with radical means The first course Is not revolu- 
tionary radicalism but on act of desperation that certainly 
does not have to be accounted for in terms of political 
theory The second Is simply a departure, temporary or 
permanent, from the general rule that men who are con- 
servative about most things tend to be conservative about 
all things The third Is one of the dilemmas of modem 
American conservatism All arc exhibitions of a sharply 
limited radicalism that Is often displaced by conservatives 
unaware of the logic of conservatism 

Liberalism, the stickiest word m the political dictionary, 
is the attitude of those who are reasonably satisfied With 
their way of life yet believe that they can improve upon it 
substantially without betraying its ideals or wrecking its 
institutions The liberal tries to adopt a balanced view of 
the Social process, but when he faces a showdown over 
some thoughtful plan to Improve the lot of men, he will 
choose change over stabibty, experiment over continuity, 
the future over the past In short, he is optimistic rather 
than pessimistic about the possibilities of reform 
Conservatism is committed to a discnm mating defense 
of the social order against change and reform The con- 
servative knows that change is the rule of life among men 
and societies, but he insists that it be sure-footed and re- 
spectful of the past He Is pessimistic, though not always 
darkly so, about the possibilities of reform, and his natural 



preferences are for stability over change, continuity over 
experiment, the past over the future The essentia! dif- 
ference between conservatism and liberalism as attitudes 
toward change and reform is one of mood and bias No 
visible line separates one camp from tbe other, but some- 
where between them stands a man who is at once the most 
liberal of conservatives and most conservative of liberals 
In genuine liberals there is a sober strain of conservatism, 
in genuine conservatives a piquant strain of liberalism, 
and all men, even extreme radicals, can act conservatively 
when their own interests are under attack 
Sfandpalfum, an awkward but useful term, describes 
the attitude of those who, despite all evidence to the con- 
trary, seem to think that society can be made static Such 
people cannot look with equanimity on any reform, 
whether designed to improve the future or preserve the 
past The conservative conserves discnnunately, the stand- 
patter indiscriminately, for be fears movement in any di- 
rection It could be argued that this is not a valid category, 
that all so-called standpatters can be classed as either con- 
servatives or reactionaries, and it should be acknowledged 
readily that men who adopt this attitude consciously are 
hard to find Standpattism is in one s< nse simply an excess 
of conservatism compounded of fear, ignorance, inertia, 
and selfishness, this label might more properly be applied 
to the general course of action, or rather of no-action, 
resulting from an extreme conservative attitude In any 
case, whether we call it standpattism or ultraconservatism 
or inacbon, we must occasionally direct our attention to a 
point on our circular spectrum halfway between conserva- 
tism and reaction, to an outlook on life that longs in vain 
for a social process that stands stdL 

Reaction sighs for the past and feels that a retreat back 
into it piecemeal or large-scale, is worth trying The true 
reactionary, a man not to be confused with the conserva- 
tive who likes to indulge in reactionary reverie, refuses to 
accept the present He knows, or thinks he knows, of a 
certain time m the past— the 1920's, the years just before 
World War I, the 1890’s, or even earlier — when men were 
better oB than they are at present. Wore than this, be is 


willing to erase some laws, enact others, even amend his 
nations constitution — in short, act “radical]/'— so that 
he may roll back tho social process to the time at which 
his countrymen first went foolishly astray 

Revolutionary reaction, like revolutionary radicalism, Is 
wiling and even anxious to uso violence in its assault on 
the existing order Indeed, liberals and conservatives, de- 
fenders of change and stability in a peaceful society, find 
little to choose between two isms that roam so far beyond 
the pale of civilized conduct and purpose I must state 
again my conviction that the political spectrum goes from 
left to nght around the nm of a circle The two-way street 
between Communism and Fascism is a good deal shorter 
than some people seem to think, for each of these revolu- 
tionary ideologies fuses radicalism and reaction into a 
mockery of liberty and justice In this country, too, the 
way can be short from the extreme of radicalism to the 
extreme of reaction 

There are few men who cannot be placed, even if it 
may be against their will, in one of these categories, 
which, let it be repeated, affix Libels to men only reluc- 
tantly and for one narrow purpose While anarchists, her- 
mits, and pure traditionalists are something of a problem 
for the classifier, most of the first group are probably radi- 
cals, most of the second thoroughly frustrated radicals or 
standpatters extraordinary, most of the third reactionaries 
so reactionary as to have lost contact with reality 'While 
sheer opportunists and hopeless indifferents are also dif- 
ficult cases, in the final reckoning they, too, find some one 
category more comfortable than the others 

The numbers of men in each of these groups may vary 
sharply from one society to another or from one time to 
another within a particular society Indeed, the health of a 
nation may be roughly measurable in the ratio of liberals 
and conservatives to men of other isms In a just, secure, 
well-ordered community the liberal and conservative 
categories might include up to ninety per cent of the peo- 
ple In a distressed, unstable community one or more of 
the other categories would surely be much larger, and the 
conservative might find it impossible to practice his trade 



In a country heavily populated with standpatters and 
reactionaries the conservative may be found traveling 
down the middle of the road or even a bit over on the left 
— a situation that makes it more difficult for him both to 
be a conservative and to be recognized as one. 

Let me again make dear that these categories are rele- 
vant only to the kind of society we have known m the 
West Some cntics of the conservative position, and of 
those who seek to identify and describe it, have thought 
to end all discussion of the subject by remarking that, if 
conservatism is the defense of a going society, then Stalin 
was an authentic conservative This, it seems to me, is a 
show of sophistry to which we need not make a serious 
rejoinder The isms we are discussing, and above all the 
kindred isms of the conservatives and liberals, come fully 
alive only in the civilized political and cultural conflicts of 
the open, popular, ordered, constitutional society. 

This leads to a final burst of definition. The words 
Right and Left , for all the abuse that has been heaped 
upon them, remain useful if tricky tools of political analy- 
sis and discussion, and they will be used wherever neces- 
sary in this book By the Right, let us mean generally 
those parties and movements that are skeptical of popular 
government, oppose the bnght plans of the reformers and 
do-gooders, and draw particular support from men who 
have a sizable stake m the established order By the Left, 
let us mean generally those parties and movements that 
demand wider popular participation in government, push 
actively for reform, and draw particular support from the 
disinherited, dislocated, and disgruntled As a general 
rule, to which there are histone exceptions, the Right is 
conservative or reacbonaiy, the Left liberal or radicaL 

We come now to the last of our preliminary tasks, to 
identify the most famous school of conservative political 

Chronologically, this conservatism u a philosophy of 
life and politics that has epsted only smee the French 
Revolution There mere brave conservatives heft™ 
Edmund Burbp but not u»U this great man »d ho col- 


leagues faced up boldly to the extravagant radicalism of 
that event did conservatism come to Lfe as ft clearly dis- 
tinguishable school of political thought Burkes Reflec- 
tions on the Revolution in France {1790) is rightly con- 
sidered the first and greatest statement of consciously con- 
servative principles Equally important events for the rise 
of conscious conservatism were the Industrial Revolution, 
which made change rather than stability the essential style 
of the social process, and the upsurge of rationalism, 
which put reason in place of tradition as the chief guide to 
human conduct The inevitable result was a political faith 
dedicated specifically to stability and tradition, and Burke, 
surely, was the first to publish it in the streets of Askelon 
His preeminence does not go completely unchallenged 
On one hand, a charming feature of the conservative re- 
vival has been the writing of many books and articles — 
some of them solemn, others tongue-in-cheekish — that 
project philosophical conservatism back to such worthies 
as Locke, Hobbes, Bohngbroke, Richard Hooker, John of 
Salisbury, St Thomas, St Augustine, Cicero, Aristotle, 
and even Plato These writings have been clever but not 
successful While no one can deny that each of these men 
expressed ideas of a fundamentally conservative cast, 
nor that Burke was a dubful son of a great tradition to 
which roost of them contributed richly and beneficently. 
Still he stands forth as the first to recast this tradibon in the 
form of a defense of the plural, constitutional society 
against violent upheaval, the first to grapple with forces 
of change that are still at work upon us Burke can be 
made leal and relevant to the modem conservative, but 
to go back beyond him in quest of an authentic First 
Source is to become lost in the shadowy world of “tra- 
dition-making " 

On die other hand, there are some who, by outlining 
the fanciful dimensions of the Perfect Conservative or by 
chopping the word into fine pieces, have proved to them- 
selves that Burke was not a conservative at alL Such peo- 
ple make much of the well-known fact that the word in 
its present political meaning did not come into being until 
several decades after his death But this again is to play 


with definitions and to mistake form for substance Most 
historians would now subscribe to die sense of the mat* 
ter as it has been expressed by Irving Knstol “There was 
in Burke's rhetoric and style a pathos, a reverential at- 
tachment to things old and established and ailing with 
age, that fixes him as the source and origin o! modem 
conservatism " 

Geographically, this conservatism. Idee the political posi- 
tion it seeks to express, is a Western phenomenon, a phi- 
losophy peculiar to the Atlantic community and certain of 
its extensions throughout the world Indeed, one must go 
further and say that, although it has loyal and eloquent 
adherents in countries like Prance, Germany, Italy, Swe- 
den, Canada, and the United States, the conservatism of 
Burke has held continuous sway as a major political and 
intellectual force only in Great Britain It has not flour- 
ished as it might have in France and Italy because, among 
other reasons, there has never been sufficient agreement 
among the men of the Right as to just what it was they 
wanted to conserve It does not flourish as it once did in 
the United States for reasons I propose to enlarge upon 
throughout this book 

Ideologically, this conservatism accepts and defends 
most of the institutions and values of the contemporary 
West Not only does it continue to hold in trust the great 
Western heritage from Israel, Greece, Rome, and all Chris- 
tianity, the way of hfe that speaks of humanity and justice, 
it also pledges its faith to what we know and cherish as 
constitutional democracy, the way of life that speaks of 
liberty and the consent of the people Conservatism, we 
shall learn, is full of harsh doubts about the goodness and 
equality of men, the wisdom and possibilities of reform, 
and the sagacity of the majority — that is to say, about the 
democratic dogma There are times when, through one of 
its more chaste and reverent spokesmen, it exhibits a deep 
longing for the nineteenth or eighteenth or even thir- 
teenth centuries In the final reckoning, however, it ac- 
cepts the twentieth century and respects the desire for 
human liberty hardly less firmly than it pleads the cause 
for social order The true conservative, who is neither a 


standpatter nor a reactionary, is as much an enemy of the 
Fascist as lie Is of the Communist, however much ho may 
appear on the surface to shaTc some of the formers no- 
tions about authority, obedience, and Inequality He 
comes to these notlonj along an entirely different road 
from that traveled by the Fascist or opportunistic Rightist, 
and he remains well within tho pale of the Christian ethic 
and tho Just state Deeply If not Joyfully aware that de- 
mocracy Is tho only real alternative to totalitarianism, ho 
suppresses his persistent anti-democratic urges and sets 
out to domesticate government of, by, and for the peo- 
ple with the old of constitutionalism and tradition Ho 
draws his Inspiration from tho Whlgglsh Burke rather than 
from tho reactionary do Mfllstrc, his concern Is ordered 
liberty rather then order pure, simple, and at any colt 
Tor tho sake of tho main lino of argument, and hope- 
fully for tho snko of cl irity, let us henceforth call this man 
"tho Conservative" and his way of life and thought "Con- 
servatism ” In consigning other conservatisms, both philo- 
sophical and practical, to the lower case, 1 do not mean to 
show them disrespect It Is simply a question of defining 
sharply tho one great school of political thought that has 
been proudly and persistently conservative Since we can 
do no less for tho heirs of Jefferson, Bentham, and Mill 
than wo do for thoso of Butko and John Adams, let us also 
speak from time to time of Liberalism, tho one great school 
of political thought that has been proudly and persistently 
liberal Tho strange way In which a wholo nation, con- 
servatives as well as liberals, has Intoned tho comforting 
catch-phrases of Liberalism will 1» one of tho chief sub- 
jects of Inquiry In this book 

Tho chapter that follows ts a systematic presentation 
of tho principles of Conservatism for which I have drawn 
on tho wirings of several hundred men from Edmund 
Durko to Bussell Kirk. This presentation Is mado for sev- 
eral reasons In the first place. Conservatism — by several 
other names, to he sure — was a major forco In politics and 
culture tliroughout tho first half -century of the Republic, 
and it has continue- 5 ^appeal to a talented minority of 
thoughtful Amer^ \ .feature of tho cur- 



rent revival has been the steady growth of this minority 
in numbers and influence Next, although Conservatism 
has no standing as a complete system of thought among 
any sizable group in this country, most of its key principles 
are incorporated, whether m pure or adulterated form, m 
the thinking of the Right and a few are even given voice 
in the American political tradition There is a universal 
quality to the principles of the Conservative tradition 
the conservatism of almost every country in the West can 
be understood as a version, whether faithful or twisted 
or merely decayed, of this tradition Finally, many able 
entics of modem American conservatism have called upon 
its leading figures in business and politics to mend their 
ways by embracing the Conservative tradition It is quite 
impossible, in my opinion, to understand the past, present, 
or future of American conservatism unless one has a firm 
grasp of the fundamentals of Conservatism Once these 
have been described in. Chapter II, we will have a set of 
highly useful tools with which to examine the American 
political tradition (Chapter 111), the political theory, both 
past and present, of the American Right (Chapters IV- 

VII) , and the future of Amencan conservatism (Chapter 


In writing this second chapter, I have gone well afield 
from the sanctuary of my own political thoughts and have 
tned to give a fair and accurate statement of the Conserv- 
ative tradition If much of what it says sounds overly 
moralistic, even preachy, that is the way Conservatives, 
like roost men, write to inspire themselves and persuade 
others If much of what it says sounds like "moderate 
liberalism" or "constitutional idealism," that is because 
most Conservatives have long since made a peace of con- 
venience with liberal democracy by incorporating many of 
its ideals, if not by accepting all its assumptions In any 
case, the one consistent aim of this chapter is to let the 
Conservatives speak for themselves 



O R 

Down the Road 
from Burke to Kirk 

The cenctne Conservative engages reluctantly, and 
never really comfortably. In political speculation He 
believes with Burke that tho “propensity* to spin out 
theories Is “one sure symptom of an ill-conducted state * 
Distaste, not affection, for a way of life persuades men to 
think deeply and persistently about go\ eminent and so- 
ciety, and the Conservative is not surprised, nor even trou- 
bled, to learn that some textbooks in pobheal theory dwell 
almost exclusively upon the forerunners and creators of 
the Liberal and Radical traditions Since his best of all 
possible worlds is already here, or was here only ) ester- 
day, he refuses stubbornly to contemplate Utopia, much 
less draw up plans for it “Above all, no program,” Dis- 
raeli warned him, and the good Conservative takes that 
warning seriously He would not find it easy to write a 
Conservative Manifesto 

So foreign, indeed, to his usual need* and tastes is the 
art of political theory that the Conservative will not even 


vindicate bis own way of life unless it is openly and danger- 
ously attacked Then, quoting T S Eliot to the effect that 
“one needs the enemy” he turns to strengthen those parts 
of his defense under heaviest assault, and does it, as 
Peter Viereclc has noted, with “the quick thrust of epi- 
grams” rather than With “sustained theoretical works” 
with an eye-and-a-half on the attackers and only the bar- 
est concern for the fullness or consistency of his own be- 
liefs As a result. Conservatism appears at first glance to be 
a sort of gingerbread castle Too many men from too many 
generations, most of whom went to their labors under the 
guns of reform, have taken part m its building 

A closer inspection reveals that the castle is sound and 
well proportioned beneath the gingerbread there are iron 
and stone The many builders from the many generations 
have shared a common faith and common purpose The 
political tradition they have created and are shU creating 
exhibits a high degree of unity and internal consistency 
Out of the vast literature of Conservatism — a mass of prin- 
ciples, prejudices, intuitions, aphonsms, dogmas, assump- 
tions, and moral explosions — one may extract a system of 
political principles at least as harmonious as that which 
men call Liberalism Let us first hear what it has to say 
about "the measure” if not “of all things,” certainly of 
most things political man. 

The Conservative holds rather strong opinions about man’s 
nature, his capacity for self-government, his relations with 
other men, the land of life he should lead, and the rights 
he may properly claim On these opinions, which taken 
together represent a stiff questioning of the bright prom- 
ises of Liberalism, rests the whole Conservative tradition 
Man, says the Conservative (who conceals only poorly 
his distaste for such an abstraction), is a fabulous com- 
posite of some good and much evil, a blend of several 
ennobling excellencies and several more degrading imper- 
fections “Man is not entirely corrupt and depraved,” 
William McGovern and David Collier have written, “but 
to state that he is, is to come closer to the truth than to 
state that he is essentially good ” As no man is perfect, so 


no man is perfectible. If educated properly, placed fa * 
favorable environment, and held fa restraint by tradition 
and authority, he may dnpby innate qualities of ration- 
ality, sociability, Industry, and decency. Never, no mat- 
ter how ho is educated or situated or restrained, will be 
throw off completely Ms other innate qualities of irration- 
ality, sclEsliness, laziness, depravity, corruptibility, and 
cruelty Man’s nature is essentially immutable, and the 
immutable strain is one of deep-seated wickedness Al- 
though some Conservatives End support for their skeptical 
view of man fa recent experiments In psychology, most 
continue to rely on religious teaching and the study of 
history. Thoso who arc Christians, and most Conservatives 
are, prefer to call the motivation for iniquitous and ir- 
rational beliavior by its proper name Original Sin 

The Conservative is often accused of putting too touch 
stress on man's wickedness and irrationality and of over- 
looking fas many good qualities, especially his capacity 
for reason The Conservative’s answer is candid enough 
While he is well aware of man’s potentialities, he must 
counter the optimism of the Liberal with certain cheerless 
reminders that aro no less true for telling not quite all the 
truth* that evil exists independently of social or economic 
maladjustments, that we must search for the source of our 
discontents In defective human nature rather than in a 
defective social order, and that man, far from being malle- 
able, is subject to cultural alteration only slowly and to a 
limited degree The Conservative therefore considers it 
his stem duty to call attention, os did John Adams, to the 
"general frailty and depravity of human nature*' and to 
the weakness of reason as a guide to personal conduct or 
collective endeavor lie is, fa his most candid moments, 
an admirer of instinct, the "innate feeling for the good and 
the bad," and at least an apologist for prejudice, "the 
poor man's wisdom " 

This view of human nature is saved from churlish cyni- 
cism by two beliefs First, man is touched with eternity 
He has a precious soul, be is a religious entity. His urges 
toward sin are matched, and with Cod’s grace can be 
overmatched if never finally beaten down, by his aspira- 


boa for good For this reason, the Conservative asserts, 
man is an object of reverence, and a recognition of man’s 
heaven-ordained shortcomings serves only to deepen this 
reverence Second, to quote from Burke, the father of all 
Conservatives, “The nature of man is intricate " The con- 
fession of an eminent psychologist, Gardner Murphy, 
“Not much, I believe, is known about man,” is applauded 
by the Conservative, who then adds, “Not much, I be- 
lieve, will ever be known about lum ” Man is a mysterious 
and complex being, and no amount of psychological re- 
search will ever solve the mystery or unravel the com- 

No truth about human nature and capabihbes, the Con- 
servative says, is more important than this man can gov- 
ern himself, but there is no certainty that he will, free 
government is possible but far from inevitable Man will 
need all the help he can get from educabon, religion, 
tradibon, and insbtubons if he is to enjoy even a limited 
success m his experiments in self-government He must be 
counseled, encouraged, informed, and checked Above all, 
he must realize that the collecbve wisdom of the commu- 
nity, itself the union of countless parbal and imperfect wis- 
doms like his own, is alone equal to this mighbest of social 
tasks A clear recogmbon of man’s condibonal capacity 
for ruling himself and others is the first requisite of con- 

The Conseivabsm that celebrates Burke holds out 
obstinately against two popular beliefs about human re- 
labons in modem society individualism and equality Put- 
ting off a discussion of individualism for a few pages, let 
us hear what the Conservahve has to say about the ex- 
plosive quesbon of equality. 

Each man is equal to every other man m only one 
meaningful sense he is a man, a physical and spiritual 
enbty, and is thus enbtled by God and nature to be 
treated as end rather than means From the basic fact of 
moral equality come several secondary equahbes that the 
modem Conservahve recognizes, more eloquently m pub- 
lic than m private equality of opportunity, the right of 
each individual to exploit his own talents up to their nat- 



lira I limits, equality before the law, the nght to justice 
on the same terms as other men, and political equality, 
which takes the form — and a rather distressing form it 
often seems — of universal suffrage Beyond Bus die Con- 
servative is unwilling to go Recognizing the infinite 
variety among men in talent, taste, appearance, intelli- 
gence, and virtue, he is candid enough to assert that this 
variety extends vertically as well as horizontally Men are 
grossly unequal — and, what is more, can never be made 
equal — in most qualities of mind, body, and spint 
The good society of Conservatism rests solidly on this 
great truth The social order is organized in such a way 
as to take advantage of ineradicable natural distinctions 
among men It exhibits a class structure in which there are 
several quite distinct levels, most men find their level 
early and stay in it without rancor, and equality of oppor- 
tunity keeps the way at least partially open to ascent and 
decline At the same time, the social order aims to temper 
those distinctions that are not natural While ft recognizes 
the inevitability and indeed the necessity of orders and 
classes, it insists that all privileges, ranks, and other visible 
signs of inequality be as natural and functional as possible 
The Conservative, of course — and this point is of decisive 
importance — is much more inclined than other men to 
consider artificial distinctions as natural Equity rather 
than equality is the mark of hi* society, the reconciliation 
rather than the abolition of classes is his constant aim 
When he is forced to choose between liberty and equal- 
ity, he throws his support unhesitatingly to liberty. In- 
deed, the preference for liberty over equality lies at the 
root of the Conservative tradition, and men who subscribe 
to this tradition never tire of warning against the “rage for 
equality " 

While Conservatism has retreated some distance from 
Burke and Adams under the pressures of modem democ- 
racy, it has refused to yield one salient the belief m a rul- 
ing, serving, taste-making aristocracy "If there is any one 
point," Gertrude Hunmelfarb writes, “any single empirical 
test, by which conservatism can be distinguished from 
liberalism, it is a respect for aristocracy and aristocratic in- 


stitutions Every tenet of liberalism repudiates the idea of 
a fixed aristocracy, every tenet of conservatism affirms 
it” If it is no longer good form to use the word "aristoc- 
racy" m political debate, nor good sense to expect that 
an aristocracy can be “fixed" to the extent that it was on© 
hundred and fifty years ago, the Conservative is still moved 
powerfully by die urge to seek out the "best men" and 
place them in positions of authority Remembering 
Burke's warning that without the aristocracy “there is no 
nation," he continues to assert the beneficence of a 
gentry of talent and virtue, one that is trained for special 
service and thus entitled to special consideration He con- 
tinues to believe that it takes more than one generation to 
make a genuine aristocrat His best men are “best” m man- 
ners as well as in morals, in birth as well as m talents 

The world being what it is today, the Conservative 
spends a good deal of his time in the pulpit exhorting his 
fellow men to live godly, righteous, and sober lives He 
does not do this gladly, for he is not by nature a Puritan, 
but the tunes seem to have made him our leading “moral 
athlete " 

Man, the Conservative asserts, is stamped with sin and 
carnality, but he is also blessed with higher aspirations If 
human nature m general can never be much improved, 
each individual may nevertheless bring his own savage 
and selfish impulses under control. It is his duty to him- 
self, his fellows, and God to do just this — to shun vice, 
cultivate virtue, and submit to the guidance of what Lin- 
coln called "the better angels of our nature " Only thus, 
through the moral striving of many men, can free govern- 
ment be secured and society be made stable 

What virtues must the m dividual cultivate? The Con- 
servative of the tower, the Conservative of the Seld, the 
Conservative of the market place, and the Conservative 
of the assembly each give a somewhat different answer to 
this question, yet all seem to agree to this catalogue of 
primary virtues wisdom, justice, temperance, and cour- 
age, industry, frugality, piety, and honesty, contentment, 
obedience, compassion, and good manners The good man 
is peaceful but not resigned and Is conservative through 



habit and choice rather than sloth and cowardice He as- 
sumes that duty comes before pleasure, self-sacnfice be- 
fore self-indulgence Believing that the test of life Is ac- 
complishment rather than enjoyment, he takes pride in 
doing a good job in the station to which he has been 
called He is alert to the identity and malignity of the vices 
he must shun ignorance, injustice, intemperance, and 
cowardice, laziness, luxury, selfishness, and dishonesty, 
envy, disobedience, violence, and bad manners And be is 
aware, too, of the larger implications of bis own hfe of 
virtue self-government is for moral men, those who 
would be free must be virtuous 

At the center of that constellation of virtues which make 
up the good man (who is also, needless to say, the good 
Conservative) is prudence "Prudence," Burke wrote, “is 
not only first in rank of the virtues political and moral, but 
she is the director" of all the others. The literature of Con- 
servatism spends a good deal more time celebrating this 
quality than defining it, yet there is no doubt that it repre- 
sents a cluster of urges— toward caution, deliberation, 
and discretion, toward moderation and calculation, toward 
old ways and good form — which gives every other stand- 
ard virtue a special look when displayed by a true Con- 

Education looms importantly in the literature of Con- 
servatism, for it is the road that leads through virtue to 
freedom Only through education — in family, church, and 
school — can children be shaped into civilized men Only 
through education can man’s vices, which are tough, be 
brought under control and his virtues, which are frail, be 
nourished into robust health. The instruments of educa- 
tion should teach a man to think, survive, ply a trade, and 
enjoy his leisure Their great mission, however, is to act as 
a conserving, civilizing force to convey to each man his 
share of the inherited wisdom of the race, to train him to 
lead a moral, self-disciplined life, and to foster a love of 
order and respect for authority 
The Conservative’s understanding of the mission of 
education explains his profound mistrust of modem 
theories, most of which, he feels, are grounded in a clear 

THE CONSERVATIVE tradition 27 

misreading of the nature and needs of children The school 
has always been a conservative force in society, and the 
Conservative means to keep it that way He admits that 
there is a stage in the education of some individuals — 
those who are to go on to leadership — when self-develop- 
ment and self-expression should get prime consideration 
First things must come first, however, and before this 
stage is reached, the individual must he taught his com- 
munity’s values and he integrated into its structure 

Before we can describe the Conservative consensus on 
freedom and responsibility, we must learn more of the 
circumstances m which men can enjoy the one because 
they accept the other 

Some of the Conservative's best thoughts are directed to 
society and the social process The key points of his social 
theory appear to be these 

Society is a living organism with roots deep m the past 
The true community, the Conservative likes to say, is a 
tree, not a machine It rose to its present strength and 
glory through centuries of growth, and men must forbear 
to think of it as a mechanical contrivance that can be dis- 
mantled and reassembled in one generation Not fiat but 
prescription, not the open hand of experiment but the 
hidden hand of custom, is the chief creative force in the 
social process 

Society is cellular It is not an agglomeration of lonely 
individuals, but a grand union of functional groups Man 
is a social animal whose best interests are served by co- 
operating with other men Indeed, he has no real mean- 
ing except as contributing member of bis family, church, 
local community, and, at certain stages of historical de- 
velopment, occupational association The group is impor- 
tant not only because it gives life, work, comfort, and 
spiritual support to the individual, hut because it joins 
with thousands of other groups to form the one really 
stubborn roadblock against the march of the all-powerful 
state The Conservative is careful not to nde the cellular 
analogy too hard, for he is aware that it can lead to a so- 
cial theory in which man loses all dignity and personality 


In addition to intrinsic groups Lie the family and 
church, a healthy society will display a balanced com- 
bination of institutions", constitution, common law, mon- 
archy or presidency, legislature, courts, civil service, 
armed services and subdivisions, colleges, schools, forms 
of property, corporations, trade unions, guilds, fraternal 
orders, and dozens of other instrumcntaLties and under- 
st an dings that mold the lives of men Such symbols of 
tradition, of national unity and continuity, as anthems, 
ags, ntuals, battlefields, monuments, and pantheons of 
heroes are equally dear to the Conservative heart AH 
men are stanch defenders of the institutions that meet 
tfteir practical and spiritual needs, but the Conservative 
places special trust in them “Individuals may form com- 
munities, Disraeli warned, “but it Is institutions alone 
tnit can create a nation " 

Society is structured The Conservative, as we have 
learned already, recognizes the existence of classes and 
orders as a positive good B> no means wedded to the 
habit of making ng,d distinctions, he sees the social stiuc- 
toe not as a senes of neat strata laid one on top of another, 
but m Colcndge s phrase, as “an indissoluble blending and 
interfusion of persons from top to bottom " There must, in 
any case, be a top, visible and reasonably durable, and it is 
not surprising that the self-conscious Conservative » usu- 
aJ/y to be found in or around it. 

Society is a unity In the healthy community all these 
j?°T ."“V ™d classes St together mto a har. 

" h . 0,e ' “"'“'P'* 1“ reshape one part of so- 

crety must inevitably ditto, b other parts The Conserva- 
of » Ploralst, never loses s.ght of 

XXgX ""“ ch a " 

10 ’T Chan S e B the rule of hfe, to, 
it must «w/ "? A commumt y cannot stand still, 

i M ^ Conse ^ative must not 

ideat e L Z r ^ tently Ouhvom ^tuhons and 
ideals In the words of Tennyson's Hands All Round 

May Freedom's oak forever live 
With stronger hfe from day to day. 


That man's the true Conservative, 

Who lops the moulded d branch away 

"Society must alter* Russell Kirk acknowledges, "for 
slow change is the means of its conservation, like the hu- 
man body’s perpetual renewal” In recognizing, however 
grudgingly, this great social truth, the Conservative shows 
himself to be neither a reactionary nor a standpatter Yet 
he is just as emphatically not a liberal or radical, and he 
therefore sets severe conditions upon social change, es- 
pecially if it is to be worked by active reform Change, 
he insists, must never be taken for its own sake, must 
have preservation, if possible even restoration, as its 
central object, must be severely limited in scope and 
purpose, must be a response to an undoubted social need 
— for example, the renovation or elimination of an institu- 
tion that is plainly obsolete, must he worked out by slow 
and careful stages, must be brought off under Conserva- 
tive auspices, or with Conservatives intervening at the 
decisive moment (this is known as "stealing the Whigs’ 
clothes"), and finally, in Disraeli’s words, must “be ear- 
ned out in deference to the manners, the customs, the 
laws, the traditions of the people” The essence of Con- 
servatism is the feeling for the possibilities and limits of 
natural, organic change, and the kindred feeling that, in 
the words of McGovern and Collier, “while change is con- 
stant and inevitable, progress is neither constant nor in- 
evitable ” In the eloquent phrases of R J White of Cam- 

To discover the order which inheres in things rather 
than to impose an order upon them, to strengthen 
and perpetuate that order rather than to dispose 
things anew according to some formula which may 
be nothing more than a fashion, to legislate along the 
grain of human nature rather than against it, to pur- 
sue limited objectives with a watchful eye, to amend 
here, to prune there, in short, to preserve the 
method of nature in the conduct of the state , , 
this is Conservatism 


Society must be stable Although men can never hope 
to see their community completely stable, they can create 
an endurable condition of peace and order To achieve 
this great end of order— without which, a* Richard 
Hooker wrote long ago, "there ts no living in public so- 
ciety'*— they must work unceasingly for a community 
that has tills ideal appearance 
Common agreement on fundamentals exists among 
men of all ranks and stations Loyalty, good will, fraternal 
sympathy, and a feeling for compromise pervade the po- 
litical and social scene. 

Institutions and groups are in functional adjustment, 
the social order is the outward expression of an inner, 
largely uncocrccd harmony Political, economic, social, 
and cultural power Is widely diffused among persons, 
groups, and other instruments, these are held by law, 
custom, and constitution in a state of operating equilib- 
rium For every show of power there is corresponding 
responsibility A minimum of friction and maximum of 
accommodation exist between government and group, 
government and individual, group and individual. 

The authority of each group and instrument, and es- 
pecially of the government, is legitimate. The laws honor 
the traditions of the nation, ore adjusted to the capacities 
of the cibzenry, meet the requirements of natural justice, 
and satisfy the needs of society Men obey the laws cheer- 
fully and readily, and they know why they obey them 
They know, too, the difference between authority and 
authoritarianism, and are thankful that the former helps 
to govern their lives 

Men are secure, they have a sense of being, belonging, 
and creating Their labors are rewarded, their sorrows 
comforted, then needs satisfied They have the deep feel- 
ing of serenity that arises not merely from material well- 
being, but from confidence In the future, from daily con- 
tact with decent and trustworthy men, and from partici- 
pation in an even-handed system of justice Predictability, 
morality, and equity are important ingredients of this con- 
dition of security Most important, however, is ordered 
liberty, which makes it possible for men to pursue their 



talents and tastes within a sheltering framework of rights 
and duties 

Change and reform are sure-footed, discriminating, and 
respectful of the past "Men breathe freely,” as F. E Des- 
sauer puts it, "because change is limited The 
changes which are taking place do not frighten the af- 
fected * 

Unity, harmony, authority, security, continuity- — these 
are the key elements of social stability In longing for a 
society m which peace and order reign, the Conservative 
comes closest to the utopianism that he ridicules in others 

The Conservative’s ideas about government display an 
unusual degree of symmetry, and he is rarely stumped 
by practical questions about its nature, structure, and 
purpose These ideas are not, in one sense, especially pro- 
found Reluctant theorist that he is, he prefers to li\e with 
contradictions (such as that between liberty and author- 
ity) and to ignore nasty questions (such as that of sover- 
eignty) with which men who like their doctrines neat are 
feverishly concerned Yet, if pushed hard enough by the 
challenges of such men, he can find a great many things 
to say about politics For example, in discussing the na- 
ture of government, he likes to point out to radicals that 
it is natural rather than artificial, to individualists that It 
is good rather than evil, and to collectivists that it is 
limited rather than unlimited in potentialities and 

Man, he insists, is a political as well as social animal, 
government is necessary to his existence as man The con- 
cept of the social contract may ha\e some lingering value 
as the symbol of consent, hut the origin of government 
cannot possibly be explained in mechanistic terms Gov- 
ernment, like the family out of which it arose, is nature’s 
unforced answer to tuneless human needs. Natural in 
ongra, it is also natural in development Like society, xt 
Is a tree rather than a machine Laws and institutions are 
the result of centuries of imperceptible growth, not the 
work of one generation of constitution-makers A new 
constitution will not last long unless it Incorporates a 



good part of the old, most successful reforms in the pat- 
tern of government are recognitions of prescriptive 
changes that have already taken place 

Government is a positive, if not entirely unmixed, bless- 
ing for which men can thank wise Providence, not a neces- 
sary evil for which they can blame their own moral in- 
sufficiencies Even if men were angels, some political or- 
ganization would be necessary to adjust the complexity 
of angelic relations and to do for the citizens of heaven-on- 
earth what they could not do as individuals or families 
Government serves genuine purposes that cannot be ful- 
filled by any other means Any time-honored instrument 
that is so essential to man’s liberty and security cannot be 
considered inherently evil 

Government serves many purposes but not all For 
example, no government can ever act as a proper substi- 
tute for the other intrinsic institutions — family, church, 
neighborhood, occupational association Nor can it be en- 
tirely successful m its own area of operation, since, m 
Lord Hadsham's words, "there are inherent limitations on 
what may be achieved by political means." The most obsti- 
nate of these limitations is, of course, the imperfect na- 
ture of man In addition, law and administration find un- 
breachable limits in the rights of men, which exist inde- 
pendently of the will and favor of government, and in the 
existence of lesser groups and institutions, some of which 
are as natural and indestructible as government itself 
There are, m short, many things that government simply 
cannot do — by right or by nature 

The Conservative's view of the imperfect nature of 
man, especially his awareness of man’s corruptibility, 
leads him to issue several sharp warnings about the pat- 
tern of government In the first place, it must be constitu- 
tional The discretion of men in power must be reduced 
to the lowest level consistent with effective operation of 
the political machinery Rulers and ruled alike must re- 
spect the sanctity of constitutional limits The great serv- 
ice of constitutionalism, the Conservative says, is that it 
forces men to think, talk, and compromise before they 
act Every constitution is both a grant of power and a cat- 


alogue of limitations, the best constitutions lay stress on 
the second of these purposes 

Next, power must be diffused and balanced. Govern- 
ment must not sway with every breeze that seems to 
blow from the direction of the people The power to act 
in response to popular whims and demands must be di- 
vided horizontally among a senes of independent organs 
and agencies, and vertically between two or more levels 
of government The diffusion of power puts a brake on the 
urge for wholesale reform At the same time, it is the 
most trustworthy limit on abuses of authority Once power 
has been diffused, the institutions that share in it must be 
placed m balance Equilibrium is the mark of stable gov- 
ernment, just as it is of stable society, and the essence of 
eqmlibnum is mutual restraint and ultimate unity. 

Finally, a government must be representative Repre- 
sentation is more than a pragmatic answer to the problem 
of popular government in an extended area The ancient 
system under which the people elect representatives to 
make all laws except the constitution and all decisions ex- 
cept as to their own continuance in office is justified 
by these considerations ft, too, delays decision and frus- 
trates whimsical change It permits debate and compro- 
mise to take place under optimum conditions, and thus 
gives reason and candor a chance to be beard Most im- 
portant, it institutionalizes the urge for aristocracy Rep- 
resentation, ideally considered, is a means of assuring the 
leadership of the best men in the community, a remarkable 
contrivance through which ordinary men may aclileve 
extraordinary government 

Limitations, diffusion, balance, representation — 
through these techniques the Conserv alive seeks the influ- 
ence of majority rule He is deeply concerned about the 
potential tyranny of the unrestrained majority While he 
knows no better way of making political decisions In a 
modem community, he insists that the majority be cool- 
beaded, persistent, and overwhelming, and that it recog. 
mze those things it cannot do by nght or might At best a 
reluctant democrat when he looks out upon society, he is 
even more reluctant when he turns to consider the role of 


the people m government. He knows that he lives in the 
twentieth century, yet he rejoices that it is, politically 
speaking, still somewhat of a prisoner to the eighteenth 
Government, in the Conservative view, is something 
like fire. Under control, it is the most useful of servants, 
out of control, it is a ravaging tyrant The danger of its 
getting out of control is no argument against its extended 
and generous use Held within proper limits, government 
answers all these purposes 

It defends the community against external assault 
It is the symbol of unity, the focus of that patriotic fer- 
vor which turns a lumpy mass ot men and groups into a 
living unity 

It establishes and administers an equitable system of 
justice, which alone makes it possible for men to live and 
do business with one another 

It protects men against the violence they can do one 
another By die judicious use of force, it ensures “domes- 
tic tranquillity” 

It secures the rights of men, including the right of prop- 
erty, against the assaults of hcense, anarchy, and jealousy. 

It adjusts conflicts among groups and regulates their 
activities, thus acting as the major equilibrating force m 
the balance of social forces 

It promotes public and private morality, without which 
freedom cannot long exist In league with church and 
family, it strives to separate men’s virtues from their vices 
and to keep the latter under tight rein It does all this by 
encouraging or at least protecting organized religion, by 
supporting the means of education, by enacting laws 
against vice, and by offering a high example of justice 
and rectitude 

It aids men in their pursuit of happiness, chiefly by re- 
moving obstacles in the path of individual development 
Finally, government acts as a humanitarian agency in 
cases of clear necessity It relieves human suffering by 
acts of care and chantv, and in more developed commu- 
nities it may guarantee each citizen the minimum mate- 
rial requirements of a decent existence In discharging 
this function, government operates under three clear re- 



strict! ons. First, it can achieve only limited success as a 
welfare agency As Burke himself said in a slightly differ- 
ent contest, *The laws reach but a \ cry Lttle way " Many 
of man's ills, especially those that are spiritual in nature, 
are not curable b) legislation Second, it must do its good 
works of chanty and philanthropy at the lowest and most 
personal le\cls Third, there is, as Peter Viereck insists, a 
"line of diminishing returns for humamta nanism Beyond 
it, the increase in secunty is less than the loss in liberty " 
The humanitarian function of government will always re- 
main secondary to its great duties to ensure tranquilbty, 
establish justice, secure nghts and property, and raise 
the level of morality 

The Conservative neither fears nor worships the politi- 
cal state He hopes that these functions wall be discharged 
justly, virtuously, and with a minimum of compulsion or 
interference with the lives of men He can get as angry as 
any okl fashioned Liberal at the inefficiencies and petty 
tyrannies of bureaucracy Yet he attaches too much im- 
portancc to political authonty and activity ever to fall 
prey, even when his party is out of power, to the simple 
doctrine that the best government is the least and the 
least government the best One mark of the best govern- 
ment, to be sure, is that it employs the least force, but 
the reduction of force,, which Ortega considered the es- 
sence of civilization, is a problem of reforming men, not of 
limiting the size or scope of government. 

Man’s place in society, especially his relations to govern- 
ment, presents a continuing problem on which the Con- 
servative refuses to take a doctrinaire stand. In general, 
he tries to stnke a workable compromise between the 
needs of the co mm unit) and the nghts of the individual, 
both of which he champions eloquently whenever they 
are ignored or despised 

In the world as it is, the world in which men Lve, it is 
often necessary to make a hard choice between individ- 
ual and community In such instances, the Conservative 
saw, the interests of the community come first This does 
not mean that every instance of friction will be resolved in 


favor of society, nor does it mean disrespect for the dig- 
nity of man’s person or the inviolability of his soul It does 
mean that society, the individual's fellow men considered 
as a collective entity, must get first consideration m a *l 
difficult cases If the community is visibly decayed or 
arbitrary, the margin of doubt swings to the individual 
As a general principle, however, it must never be forgot- 
ten that man is no better than a lonely beast outside the 
educating, protecting, civilizing pale of society, and that 
he must therefore pay a stiff pnce for its blessings Many 
philosophers have denied that man has natural rights, 
none has denied that he has natural needs, which can be 
filled only through communal association with other men 
Society, the total community, which is a great deal more 
than government, is historically, ethically, and logically 
superior to the individual Government, family, church, 
and countrymen past, present, and future — how can it 
ever be asserted with candor that any one man is more 
valuable than these? Even m the age of massness and me- 
diocrity, of big government and big democracy, the Con- 
servative speaks, when he speaks with the voice of Burke, 
of the primacy of society 

Yet he speaks, too, of the rights of man If man has 
needs that force him to submit to the community, he also 
has rights that the community must honor In every man 
there is a sphere of personality and activity into which 
other men, whether private citizens or public officials, 
have no logical or moral claim to intrude This area is la- 
beled "the rights of man ” 

These rights are both natural and social — natural be- 
cause they belong to man as man, are part of the great 
scheme of nature, and are thus properly considered the 
gift of God, social because man can enjoy them only m 
an organized community The rights that men in fact en- 
joy have developed through centuries of struggle to a 
point where they are recognized and enforced by law 
The great rights, that is to say, are more than natural or 
social They are legal, constitutional, and historical The 
Conservative has a notably concrete concept of human 
nghts, and he avoids describing or justifying them in ab- 


stract, philosophical terns Indeed, his favorite adjective 
for describing his rights is "hard-earned * 

While the catalogue of rights reads differently in each 
country, life, liberty, and property shll form the irreduc- 
ible minimum that must be honored everywhere The 
nght to life is grounded on the eternal truth that man is 
end not means He has the nght not merely to exist but 
to live, he must he looked upon by his fellows as no less 
than a man The nght to liberty means that he has the 
nght to act and think as he pleases so long as this does 
not impinge on the rights of other men From original lib- 
erty flow the freedoms of conscience, association, expres- 
sion, and movement, as well as the rights to justice and to 
the pursuit of happiness Man has no nght to happiness, 
but he does have die nght to pursue it with all the ener- 
gies and talents God has given him. Each man must de- 
fine happiness in his own terms, though this condition 
— a fleeting thing at best — must bring satisfaction of 
mind, body, and spurt, all three Finally, man has the 
nght to acquire, hold, use, and dispose of property, as 
well as to enjoy the fruits that he reaps from it Tlus nght, 
like the others, is the cutting edge of a powerful instinct 
m human nature 

The Conservative refuses to make the easy, he would 
say demagogic, distinction between "human rights" and 
“property rights " Property, in his view, is a human nght, 
as important to man’s existence and improvement as 
any other nght It is therefore to be honored without 
quibble and championed without reserve He is well 
aware that he bucks the fade of modem democracy, that 
in placing property at the side of a free conscience or even 
of life itself he lays himself open to the charge of matenal- 
ism His defense is the one he always throws up when the 
guns of the sentimental Left are “zeroed in” on his posi- 
tion He is dealing with man as man is, not with man as 
the Left would like him to be In addition, the Conserva- 
tive advances these justifications of the institution of pri- 
vate property 

Property makes it possible for a man to develop in mind 
and spirit Tools, house, land, clothes, books, heirlooms — 


how can anyone deny that these are as essential as the air 
to man'* growth to maturity and wisdom’ 

Property make* ft possible for a man to be free * n "* 
pendcnce and privacy can never be enjoyed by one who 
must rely on other persons or agencies— especially govem- 
ment — for food, shelter, and material comforts Property 
gives him a place on which to stand and make free 
choices, it grants him a sphere in which he may ignore the 

Property is the most important tingle technique for the 
diffusion of economic power 

Property is essentia! to the existence of tlie family, the 
natural unit of society 

Property provides the main incentive for productive 
work Human nature being what it is and always will be, 
the desire to acquire and held property « essential to 

Final!}, property is a powerful conservative agent, giv- 
ing added support and substance to that temperament 
which helps to stabilize society. 

The Conservative defense of private property is roost 
certainly not a defense of its abuse, neglect, or existence 
In grotesque forms and exaggerated concentrations Nor 
is it primarily a defense of industrial capitalism or large- 
scale private enterprise. Few Conservatives will assert, 
certainly in their most detaches! and Burkean moments, 
that any particular system of production and distribution 
is, like pnvate property, rooted in the nature of things 
and men 

The man who has rights also has duties Bights are at 
bottom simply claims upon other men. and the law of 
equilibrium commands thoso who make claims to be ready 
to pay for them In return for the chance to enjoy his 
rights in a community, a man has the obligation to use 
these rights responsibly The right to lifo carries with it 
the duty to live morally Freedom of conscience is 
matched by the duty to think wisely and worship deco- 
rously Freedom of association calls on men to give back 
in full measure what they get from their fellows No right 
carries with it greater obligations than the possession of 



property, which is a legacy from the past, a power in the 
present, and a trust for the future 
The final price of freedom is self-discipline and self-re- 
straint In the familiar words of Edmund Burke 

Society cannot exist unless a controlling power of 
will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less 
of it there is within, the more there must be without 
It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, 
that men of intemperate minds cannot he free Their 
passions forge their fetters 

And m the refreshingly plain-spoken words of Harry 

Freedom is not the absence of discipline, but it calls 
for discipline by internal constraint in contrast with 
the external police control of totaktanamsm When 
you throw a man in the water, his freedom does not 
express itself by merely splashing around He can be 
free in the water only because he has learned to 
swim, that is to say, only because he subjects himself 
to a form of discipline, and a blend of self-suppres- 
sion and self-assertion The ideas of freedom. 
Self-control, and balance are inextricably interwoven 

This is a profoundly Conservative view of the ethics of 
liberty So, too, is the insistence of Raymond English on 
"the relation between the belief in an obligatory moral or- 
der and the possibility of freedom ” 

The heretical view of freedom, the assumption that 
it means the independent choices made by the pri- 
vate and self-sufficient wills of individuals, leads to 
the demoralization of the person and the paralysis of 
decision m a society, whereas the concept of free- 
dom as service to eternal and infinite purposes and 
laws produces firmness, self-confidence and expan- 
sion of energy in individuals and communities 
The fact is that the Conservative has never wandered 
far from the definition of liberty as "service" to God's 


Stand fast therefore In the liberty wherewith Chnst 

hath made us free 

The Conservative's thoughts pbout “man End the state 
are neither extreme nor simple. Whether the state be de- 
fined as the entire society or as that part of it known as 
government, no fundamental antithesis or conflict exists 
between it and man Society is essential to his physical 
and spiritual existence, government serves him as the 
chief agent of society “Man against the state” is either an 
outlaw, mgrate, or anarchist There is, to be sure, a basic 
conflict of interest between the good man and the corrupt 
or authoritarian state Such a man may well find it neces- 
sary to assert an extreme individualism by rebelling 
against such a state Yet this is only the first step to politi- 
cal redemption from there he must go on to rebuild a 
state that will honor his rights and personality Dad govern- 
ment is to be corrected, and if totally bad to be resisted, 
but bad government is no argument against the existence 
of government itself 

It should be plain from this passage and from other 
observations in this chapter that the Conservative, con- 
trary to popular belief, is not an extreme individualist He 
may be willing to concede numerous arguments of the un- 
qualified individualists, for neither his own respect for the 
dignity of the individual nor his dislike of the busy-body 
state is surpassed by that of any man Yet he cannot 
agree to the full implications of individualism, which is 
based, so be thinks, on an incorrect appraisal of man, soci- 
ety, history, and government In his own way, the full- 
blooded individualist is as much a perfectionist as the so- 
cialist, and with perfectionism the Conservative can 
have no truck. 

In particular, the Conservative refuses to go all the way 
with economic individualism His distrust of unfettered 
man, his devotion to groups, his sense of the complexity 
of the social process, his recognition of the real services 
that government can perform — all these sentiments make 
it impossible for him to subscribe whole-heartedly to the 
dogmas and shibboleths of economic individualism lais- 


sez-faire, the negative state, enlightened self-interest, the 
law of supply and demand, the profit motive While the 
Conservative may occasionally have hind words for each 
of these nobons, especially when he hears them derided 
by collecbvists and bluepnnters, he is careful to qualify 
his support by stating other, more important social truths. 
For example, while he does not for a moment deny the 
prominence of the profit motive, he insists that it be rec- 
ognized for the selfish thing it is and be kept within rea- 
sonable, socially imposed limits 

At the same time that he expresses doubts about un- 
qualified laissez-faire, the Conservative expresses horror 
over unqualified socialsim If pressed for a precise solu- 
tion to the problem of government and the economy, if 
asked to draw a fine line between their respective spheres, 
he answers that precise solutions and fine lines are cruel 
and dangerous delusions Between collectivism and lais- 
sez-faire there are many possible points of temporary ad- 
justment The stable, just, and productive economy is a 
mixture of individual enterprise, group co-operahon, and 
government regulabon according to the traditions and 
needs of each people Beyond this the undoctnnaire Con- 
servabve refuses to pursue the issue, except to preach 
again from his favonte text in regulating the economy 
in the public interest government cannot by rght treat 
men unjustly and cannot by nature solve all or even a 
majority of their problems In this matter, as in most mat- 
ters of human relations and culture, he urges us to take 
note of "the inadequacy of politics " 

The Conservabve is alert to the dangers, extravagance, 
and clumsiness of government If men can accomplish com- 
mon social ends without its intervention, so much the bet- 
ter for all concerned He is not prepared, however, to rush 
from skepbcism of collective effort and detestabon of ab- 
solubsm into the delusive swamps of anarchy He hates 
unjust coercion of any sort, and he knows that govern- 
ment, for all its imperfecbons, is the instrument best fitted 
to reduce the coercions visited upon one another by im- 
perfect men “Man against the state," "man the creature of 
the state "—neither of these cheap formulas is acceptable 


to the Conservative He likes to think of man and the state 
together in a relationship that honors the needs and rights 
of each Between statism and individualism lies the mid' 
die way of ordered liberty 

Conservatism, the Conservative never fares of saying, is 
something more than a bundle of political and social prin- 
ciples It is faith, mood, sentiment, bias, temper, it is a 
wondrous mosaic of opinions about man’s essence and ex- 
penence Having scanned the pohbcal and social theory 
of Conservatism, we must now consider the Conservatives 
attitude toward religion, history, and higher law, and de- 
scribe his mood and mission These elements of Conserva- 
tism give it the special flavor that distinguishes it from all 
other isms 

The mortar that holds together the mosaic of Conserva- 
tism u religious feeling The first canon of Conservative 
thought, Russell Kirk writes, is the "belief that a dinne in- 
tent rules society as well as conscience " Man Is the child 
of God and is made in His image Society, government, 
family, church — all are divine or divinely willed Author- 
ity, liberty, morality, rights, duties — all are "strengthened 
with the strength of religion * "Religion," Coleridge re- 
marked, "is and ever has been the center of gravity in ® 
realm, to which all other things must and will accommo- 
date themselves " From this belief Conservatism has never 
wandered Those Conservatives who have doubted (and 
some of the greatest have fallen well short of unquestion- 
ing orthodoxy) have suppressed or surmounted their 
doubts in order to uphold the most powerful of conserva- 
tive influences Agnosticism is occasionally permissible, 
indifference never No Conservative can afford to be cas- 
ual about religion Those pobtical or cultural conserva- 
tives who are indifferent are to that extent— and a goodly 
extent it is — imperfect Conservatives 

In this matter the Conservative should speak for him- 
self It would be impossible, and perhaps indecent, to 
paraphrase the eloquence with which he states the mean- 
ing of our religious heritage None of these statements, be 
it noted. Is in any sense an apology for clericalism 



Edmund Burke* 

We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by 
his constitution a religious animal . We know, 
and what is better, we inwardly feel, that religion is 
the basis of civil society, and the source of all good, 
and of all comfort 

Benjamin Disraeli 

The spiritual nature of man is stronger than codes 
or constitutions No government can endure which 
does not recognize that for its foundation, and no 
legislation last which does not flow from that foun- 
tain The principle may develop itself in manifold 
forms, in the shape of many creeds and many 
churches But the principle is divine. 

R.J White 

Respect for, and defence of, religion is no monop- 
oly of the Conservative tradition The Conservative 
tradition at its best, however, does avow steadily and 
intelligently the primacy of religion m human affairs, 
its mdispensability to any adequate account of social 
cohesion among civilised peoples, and its sovereign 
power as a criticism and a check upon secular govern- 

And finally, Peter Viereck 

The churches . draw the fangs of the Noble 
Savage and clip his ignoble claws By so doing, and 
when and if they practice what they preach, they 
are performing their share of the conservative func- 
tion of spanning the gap between the cave man and 
society Marx gave the ablest summary of the issue 
when he dreaded religion as “the opiate of the peo- 
ple”— that is, the tamer, pacifier, civilizer of the 

The Conservative is probably happiest when he has an 
established church to serve and defend, yet he honors his 


nation’s traditional solution to the problem of church aud 
state Like other men, he has his own ideas about the ex- 
act nature of that solution As he is not a clericalist, so he 
is not a secularist, he suspects men who call too loudly 
and angrily for an "unbreachable wall between church 
and state” In any case, he cherishes religious feeling, 
and thus institutionalized religion, as foundation of stabil- 
ity, cement of unity, patron of morality, check upon 
power, and spur to compassion It is, in fine, the greatest 
of all civilizing forces 

The Conservative’s reverence for God is matched by 
his respect for history, and thus for those traditions of his 
community that have stood the test of time Out of the 
past — protean, mysterious, immemorial — have come the 
values and institutions that have hfted man far above his 
nature. History is the creator of all the Conservative holds 
dear, and in the logic of its glacial progress he detects the 
hand of Cod Not every great step in his country’s past 
must be accorded veneration or even respect There have 
been events in history, as there are now traditions that 
stem from them, that are impossible to square with the 
Conservative’s prudential knowledge of nght and wrong, 
and he refuses adamantly to be a slave to either history or 
tradition Still, he does have a solid prejudice for the past 
and its fruits that marks him off sharply from the question- 
ing Liberal 

History, in any case, is man’s most reliable teacher It 
js not "bunk,” not a pack of tncks played on the dead by 
the living or on the living by the dead It is a mirror in 
which each nation can find an honest image, a book m 
which it can read the awesome truth The nature and ca- 
pacities of man, the purposes and dangers of government, 
the ongms and limits of change — we Ieam these things 
best, the Conservative insists, by studying the past With- 
out the teachings of men and events, without the tradi- 
tions that institutionalize these teachings, what resources 
could we draw upon m the struggle for civilized sur- 

The Conservative considers history his special pre- 
serve James Harvey Robinson brought history to the 


support of Radicalism by asserting that it justified confi- 
dence m a future shaped by and for good men, but the 
Conservative would note grimly that Robinson published 
his New History in 191a His own sense of history, deeply 
though not despairingly tragic, has been fortified by the 
events of Eve brutal decades In the record of this cen- 
tury, as in the record of the whole past, the Conservative 
reads of wickedness, folly, misery, and failure, of the cruel 
delusion of promises of Utopia, of the tyranny of force, 
the weakness of reason, the fragility of liberty, of the in- 
evitable decay of his own civilization Yet he reads, too, of 
the civilized lives that a few men in all nations and many 
men in a few nations have achieved by honoring God, 
trusting their neighbors, respecting traditions, and prac- 
ticing virtue History teaches the Conservative to doubt 
grimly but not despair absolutely 

Reverence for God and respect for history unite to form 
a third element of the Conservative tradition the higher 
law Some Conservatives have been reluctant to embrace 
this ancient belief, for they have seen it put to effective 
use by more than one band of tradition-shattering revolu- 
tionists. Most, however, have been drawn into the great 
company of believers in the higher law, which they trace 
to God and, at the same tune, find revealed in history. 
There are some things, they assert, that men and govern- 
ments have no right to do When asked to state just what 
it is that forbids these things, they respond with some such 
phrase as “the law of nature,” "the moral law,” "the uni- 
versal moral order,” or "the dictates of justice " In Con- 
servative literature the higher law appears m these guises 

A set of moral standards governing private conduct 
the irreducible essence of these standards appears to be 
the Golden Rule 

A system of abstract justice to which the laws of men 
must conform positive law that runs counter to a people’s 
instinctive seme of right and wrong is not only bad law 
but no law at alL 

A line of demarcation around the allowable sphere 
of government activity, governments cannot push into the 
area reserved to the individual or intrinsic group, nor can 



they exercise their legitimate powers in an arbitrary or 
unjust manner 

A tiny but infinitely precious handful of human rights 
life, liberty, and property have a sanction that transcends 
human law 

The commands of the higher law find their chief sup- 
port in history The Conservative can demonstrate, at least 
to his own satisfaction, that prosperity and happiness are 
the lot of men who obey this law, adversity and sadness 
the lot of men who do not In the end, these commands 
reduce to two self-evident principles of civilized free- 
dom man must treat other men as he would have them 
treat him, governments must exercise their limited author- 
ity with ev en-handed justice 

In addition to the standard virtues, which he preaches to 
all men, the Conservative cultivates certain qualities of 
mind and character that he likes to think of as his own 
property The faithful practice of these qualities sets him 
08 sharply from other men dedicated to other isms 
Whether many Conservatives do practice them faithfully 
is a point to be argued, but this account of Conservatism 
would not be complete were we to leave these high prin- 
ciples unrecorded Let it be clearly understood that the 
almost excessive idealism of the next few pages is some- 
thing for which the Conservative is himself responsible 
These qualities fuse into what we may call “the Con- 
servative temper ” It is a powerful cast of mind and heart, 
one that we must sense and comprehend, for it shapes the 
Conservative s whole attitude toward life and society His 
political theory, to take the most pertinent example, is in 
many ways simply an intellectual rendering of this spirit 
or disposition The Conservative temper, which is some- 
thing more elevated and spacious than mere tempera- 
mental conservatism, is a subtle synthesis of reverence, 
traditionalism, distaste for materialism, high morality, 
moderation, peacefulness, and the aristocratic spint 
The Conservative has a feeling of “deep respect tinged 
with awe” for authority, history, law, institutions, and tra- 
dition By his own admission, he is moved profoundly by 


love, of his fellow men, which is at bottom an expression 
of his love of God Unable to voice the fullness of this rev- 
erence for man and community in words of his own mak- 
ing, he leans heavily upon ntual and symbolism 

Reverence for history appears in the Conservative 
spint as unabashed traditionalism It is the Conservative 
who weeps at Gettysburg or Dunkirk, the Conservative 
who gets goose flesh when the band plays the national 
anthem, the Conservative who joins societies for the 
preservation of old ways, names, and houses While he 
maintains stoutly that genuine patriotism involves a good 
deal more than reciting pledges to the flag and paying 
dues to a half-dozen leagues and orders, he is not afraid 
to acknowledge a feeling of sheer sentiment for the mys- 
tery and majesty of his nation’s past 

The Conservative, so he says, places moral above mate- 
rial values and ends He holds it more important to 
sharpen men's minds and lift up their spirits than to glut 
their bellies and relieve their toils, more necessary to ad- 
vance intellectually and spiritually than materially and 
technologically He is far from being an ascetic, he knows 
that we must pay a price in ancient values for toothpaste, 
toilets, and touring cars But ho insists that the pnce be no 
more than the sensitive spirit can bear, that vulgarity, im- 
morality, and mediocrity be prevented from sweeping the 
country If it comes down to a final choice between 
a cherished value and a new labor-saving gadget, the Con- 
servative will choose without hesitation for tradition and 
discomfort A high standard of living is only one, and by 
no means the most significant, of the tests by which the 
greatness of a nation is to be judged The state of culture, 
learning, law, chanty, and morality are of more concern 
to the Conservative than the annual output of steel and 

The shady deal, the shoddy job, the easy way out, the 
cheap tnck, the fast bargain— the Conservative is never 
happier than when he is expressing his loathing f or these 
evidences of moral softness The urge to do right, and to 
do it up to the limits of one's ability, is ingrained ca £j 
spirit He takes seriously the preaching of parents, 



and pulpit If he errs in his ways, as he, too, does more 
often than he should, he is robbed of the fruits of wrong- 
doing by a highly developed conscience. The Conserva- 
tive temper is duty-conscious and righteous altogether. 

The Conservative is a moderate, a man who shuns ex- 
tremes, whether of belief, behavior, taste, or speech Cer- 
tain of his beliefs may be classed as absolutes, but he ex- 
presses them and acts upon them with reticence and pru- 
dence. Neither joyfully optimistic nor darkly pessimistic, 
he keeps tight reign on his emotions and is content to live 
and let live In this as in most things, he seeks the golden 
mean Other men may have to choose between abstinence 
and dipsomania, he takes quiet pride in temperate enjoy- 
ment. lake Milton's Penseroso, a genuine Conservative, 
he admires and emulates those who are “sober, steadfast, 
and demure" That is also a fair description of what he 
likes— and he usually “knows what he likes”— in art, 
music, and poetry 

Nothing is more foreign to the Conservative cast of 
auna than lawless violence The Conservative's whole na- 
ture revolts against the cruelty, Unpredictability, and in- 
adequacy of brute force as a solution to problems of hu- 
man relations He does not seek peace at all costs, but he 
seeks it with all his powers 

The most important element in the Conservative tem- 
per is me aristocratic spirit Although many modem Con- 
servatives have abandoned the belief in a fixed aristoc- 
racy, their mood is one in which the urge to lead and 
serve, to set and honor high standards, and to grade both 
men and values remains strong to the point of dominance 
, auUlcnhc Conservative, more often than not a man 
of average means, is revolted almost beyond endurance by 
plutocracy, moved almost to tears by noblesse obhee. 

Not merely in England, where the division between 
“a country u an ancient and influential fact, but 
am ng ail nations this temper seems to anse more natu- 
U Wh ° hVG 0a *** hnd Conservative 

fn,?Lf eld k.? 6 pnn “ of Conservatives Perhaps tins is 
W,tel USe Pa5t 13 “° re VMible fa *«> country, per- 
haps because reverence and moderation come mom easily 



to uncrowded and unhurried men, perhaps because the 
land is one land of property a man can love without shame 
and defend without guilt Another reason may be that 
temperamental conservatism, the hard core of the Con- 
servative temper, is especially marked in the man who 
‘‘holdeth the plow and whose talk is of bullocks” 
In any case, it does seem true that the land is the great 
nursery of the Conservative cast of mind 

The Conservative, like other men, lives in the real 
world He, too, must think on his feet, make hard choices 
between moral alternatives, and act on imperfect knowl- 
edge. He, too, must make a living The Conservative 
in action — the administrator, politician, entrepreneur, 
teacher, or farmer — cannot go around all the time mum- 
bling epigrams about reverence and righteousness 

Conservative literature talks about this real world and 
its problems with refreshing candor and indifference to 
charges of inconsistency Having called upon his fellows 
to behave like saints in heaven, or at worst like monks in a 
cloister, the Conservative turns nght around to advise 
them how to face the problems of daily exist* nee m a 
rough, fast-moving world This they can do most effec- 
tively, he seems to say, by being “practical men,” men 
more concerned with the possible than the desirable, with 
the real than the abstract, with facts and figures than 
hopes and wishes Realism, common sense, adaptability, 
expediency, respect for unpleasant facts — these, appar- 
ently, are the elements the moral anatomist will discover 
when he lays bare the everyday mind of the Conserva- 

Pervading all these, and bridging the gap between the 
spiritual and practical sides of Conservatism, is a healthy 
distrust of pure reason Indeed, some writers find tins 
“noble prejudice" at the center of the Conservative 
tradition Stanley Pargelhs, for example, reduces the 
cleavage between Conservatism and Liberalism to 

the philosophic distinction between empiricism and 
rationalism, as two of the ways of knowing, of arriv- 
ing at truth The rationalist proves a proposition by 
appealing to abstract and universal principles, the 



empiricist by appealing to concrete and particular oc- 
currences The rationalist or the liberal frames his 
political decisions in accordance with some theory 
derived from an abstract notion of universal truth, 
the conservative takes into consideration an ex- 
tremely wide variety of acts, and, bearing in mind his 
principles and his ends, comes to the best decision 
he can 

While this distinction seems a little too pat, it does 
point up the Conservatives distrust of abstract specula- 
tion, especially of speculation aimed at ancient ways and 
natural urges, and of those who engage m it, especially 
from the privileged sanctuary of the ivied tower Russell 
Kirk once expressed a sentiment in which almost all Con- 
servatives indulge from time to time when he wrote 

When a man is both a professor and an intellectual, 
he is loathsome, when he is professor and intellec- 
tual and ideologist rolled into one, he is unbearable 

Harsh words from a man, neither loathsome nor unbear- 
able, who answers all these job-descnpbons, yet they do 
express the Conservative’s deep suspicion of the untram- 
meled mind — often benevolent in purpose, he thinks, but 
almost never in influence Conservatism first arose to do 
i men who used pore reason to tear down and 
rebuild whole systems, and the Conservative remains 
convinced that, m Thomas Cooks words, "excessive reli- 
ance on human reason, functioning deductively and a 
pnorf on a foundation of abstract principle," is a major 
threat to stability and progress As Ross Hoffman has put 
the matter. 

Of all the vices, conservatives hate presumption 
most and fear nothing so much as proud, naked hu- 
man reason fascinated by doctrinaire abstractions and 
rising up against an order of things which it has not 

While the Conservative honors reason as one of man’s 
most precious gifts, he considers it a "useful tool in the 



realm of instrumentality” that must be handled with pru- 
dence and skepticism It must be applied within the lim- 
its of history, facts, and human nature as we know all 
these to be, it must be squared with the inherited wisdom 
of the community and the sound instincts of the virtuous 
man The rationalism of Aristotle is the Conservative’s de- 
light, the rationalism of Descartes his despair And not 
even that land of reason, the very best brand of empiri- 
cism, can give men a complete picture of reality The 
Conservative is far less of a pragmatist than he is often 
thought to be Intuition and tradition loom importantly in 
his epistemology 

The Conservative is a man with a mission Like all men of 
good will, he pledges himself to defend the community 
against attack, protect the rights of individuals, raise the 
level of knowledge and morality, and defy arbitrary 
power In addition, he sets himself these solemn and 
often thankless tasks 

To defend the established order The Conservative ful- 
fills the first part of his mission by resisting reforms that 
might smash or w eaken the foundations of the community, 
by himself engineering readjustments in the superstruc- 
ture that can no longer be put off without damage to the 
foundations, and by warning reformers of the hidden dan- 
gers m their proposals He agrees with Agnes Repplier 
that "resistance is essential to orderly advance " and with 
Lord Hugh Cecil that “progress depends on conservatism 
to make it intelligent, efficient, and appropriate to circum- 
stance” His aim, therefore, is to domesticate the reform- 
ers, to assure that change is also progress In understand- 
ing that preservation may occasionally call for reform and 
m demonstrating a willingness to undertake such reform 
himself, the Conservative proves himself to be neither 
standpatter nor reactionary Deep in his heart, however, 
he will always rouse to Samuel Johnson’s observation 
that “most schemes of political improvement are very 
laughable things ” 

To identify and protect the real values of the commu- 
nity The true Conservative, it appears from his journals 

5 * 


of opinion, Is locked fn continuous battle with the spokes- 
men for moral relativism, the preachers of cultural egali- 
tarianism, the cheapcncm of good taste, and the vulgariz- 
es of honest sentiment 

To act as trustee for the community: The spirit of trus- 
teeship— the sense of receiving a precious heritage and 
handing It on intact and perhaps even slightly strength- 
ened— pervades Conservatism Edmund Burke spoke of 
English liberty “as an entailed Inheritanec derived to us 
from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our poster- 
ity. and Raymond Motcy has warned tis, "We are not 
creators, we are trustees Wc serve In an endless succes- 
sion of watches at the citadel of liberty " It Is the sense of 
trusteeship, of power as well as of tradition, that makes 
statesmen out of politicians, squires out of landlords, aris- 
tocrats out of plutocrats, and Conservatives out of conserv- 

To remind men of their sins, weaknesses, and imperfec- 
tions This is not a pleasant or popular task, and many 
Conservatives In active pohtics have muffed it rather 
badly Yet It does seem clearly a Conservative duty to 
rebut the preachers of human perfectibility and to chal- 
engc all doctrines and programs that assume a high level 
of general intelligence and morality. 

To serve as champion of organized religion The Con- 
servative is aware that religion cannot be a real force fn 
the community unless men of all classes and philosophies 
are convinced of its truth and ments He none the less 
eels that he can male a special contribution to the 
strengtheiung of religion by supporting all respectable 
churches and by serving his own It is his business once 
ogam to assert the importance of institutions, in this in- 
stance to remind men that widespread religious feeling 
cannot exist for long apart from ntual, discipline, and or- 
ganization * 

To serve as champion of private property The Con- 
£7* ^ ve . tra<1, 1 t,on P hces emphasis o n property as 

££*** and , socia] S«>d The Conservative is 
therefore bound to defend ,t stoutly, especially against 


those who consider it a subsidiary right that must give 
way to all plans for “social progress " 

To foster social stability The Conservative does his part 
m maintaining social stability by adopting a posture of 
stanch anti-radicalism in private and public life, by preach- 
ing and practicing trust and moderation, by insisting upon 
the pnmacy of tradition and the community, and by play- 
mg the game of politics in as mature a manner as possible 
He observes the antics of the demagogue with particular 
loathing because of the havoc this wretched fellow wreaks 
upon the delicate balance of human relations He is at his 
very best when, rising above the passions of the moment, 
he refuses to have any truck with the demagogue of the 

To foster the spint of unity among men of all classes 
and callings In his ceaseless campaign for unity the Con- 
servative does his patriotic best to play down “the so- 
called class struggle," to play up the existence of common 
agreement on fundamentals, to practice the arts of com- 
promise, to extend a helping hand to the less fortunate, 
and to encourage love of country His "patriotic best," to 
be sure, rests on a firm foundation of self-interest, for he 
is rarely to be found at the bottom of the class structure 
The Conservative mission is just that a mission, not a 
crusade Occasionally a Conservative on the stump poses 
as Richard the Lion-Hearted, but he knows — and his audi- 
ence knows, too — that it is a pose, that he is acting quite 
out of character The genuine Conservative is not a cru- 
sader, he goes upon his mission not zealously but dutifully 
In the final reckoning, the reckoning of history, the es- 
sence of that mission is to make revolution impossible — 
and also unnecessary As Henry Kissinger has written in 
summation of Mettemich’s role m post-Napoleonlc Eu- 
rope, it was 

the final symbolization of the conservative dilemma 
that it is the task of the conservative not to defeat hut 
to forestall revolutions, that a society which cannot 
prevent a revolution - . . will not be able to defeat it 
by conservative means, that order once shattered can 
be restored only by the experience of chaos. 


And as Raymond English has written in warning to his 
fellows in Conservatism 

In a truly revolutionary situation, when central au- 
thority becomes Ineffective, society loses its cohesion, 
and order and tlic sense of social Justice break down, 
conservatism w an idiotic delusion the purpose of 
conservatism is to avoid such situations, when they 
amve conservatism lias failed 
The Conservative is always the prisoner of the social 
process as it exists in the traditions, institutions, needs, 
and aspirations of his own country — and thus the pris- 
oner of the men who, knowingly or unknowingly, keep 
that process in motion They act, he only reacts If they 
act as “liberals," if the social process moves steadily but 
not explosively, his reactions can take the form of conserv- 
atism But if they act as "radicals," if the process begins 
to speed up visibly, his reactions must aim beyond mem 
conservation at restoration, and that is the point at which 
the Conservative mission becomes difficult to pursue 
When the pace of history gets out of control, the Conserv- 
ative can no longer rely on the simple, instinctive acts of 
traditionalism and preservation He, too, must reason and 
discriminate, he, too, must plan and tinker and gamble 
The “Conservative as revolutionary," the traditionalist 
who must act “radically" to preserve the values and insti- 
tutions of his community, is not a happy sight and cannot, 
m his thoughtful moments, be a happy man This, in es- 
sence, is the dilemma of modem Conservatism, which I* 
embarked on the most exacting, and therefore thankless, 
of all possible political and cultural missions. 

If this account of the Conservative tradition has been at 
all accurate, then it Is plain that the Conservative thinks 
some of the Liberals thoughts about man, government 
and society The web of Conservatism now enfolds prin- 
ciples to which Burke and John Adams would have taken 
strenuous exception Conservatism, it would seem, has 
been noticeably “liberalized ’ in the century and a half 
between Burke and Churchill. 


While the Conservative does not dispute the general 
truth of these observations, he wishes his critics would 
stop confusing liberty with Liberalism Conservatism, too, 
is a philosophy of liberty, its taproot goes deep into the 
tradition of freedom under law. Many institutions and 
values that shallow men credit to Liberalism have been 
part of Conservative thinking from the beginning Those 
who accuse Conservatism of having shifted too much 
ground forget that its point of departure was the Anglo. 
American constitutional tradition Burke, after all, was a 
Whig, not a Tory, and he spent his life defending consti- 
tutional liberty And if Conservatism has turned more lib- 
eral over these hundred and fifty years. Liberalism lias 
turned more conservative Once it was hopefully radical, 
now it speaks in strangely Conservative phrases about the 
imperfect nature of man, the reciprocity of rights and 
duties, and the joys of security While the Conservative 
has become more of a democrat, the Liberal has become 
more of a constitutionalist. Who then, the Conservative 
asks, is stealing whose thoughts? 

Warmed by this thought and chilled by the threat of 
totalitarianism, the Conservative can often be heard to 
speak fondly of “the kinship and joint mission of conserv- 
atism and liberalism." In his "almost perfect state,” radi- 
cals and reactionaries are few in number, liberals contest 
with conservatives for the power to govern, and the latter 
are in power about nine years m ten In the imperfect 
world, especially m two-party Britain and America, he too 
often finds himself allied with reactionaries and other wn- 
moderates of the Right — an unhappy situation that em- 
bitters his relations with the Liberal When the. passions of 
politics have calmed, however, the Conservative's feel- 
ing for balance and moderation brings him to acknowl- 
edge that he and the Liberal— the “sensible land of Lib- 
eral,” of course — have a common responsibility for liberty, 
order, and progress The ends of the free community, he 
admits, are best served by the interplay of nval forces 
within the rules of the game, and the two forces that seem 
to stay within them are Conservatism and Liberalism 
unsettles the Conservative to see die Liberal flirt with 


radicalism, it frightens the Liberal to hear the Cons® • 
live talk hke a reactionary. But both are coming mo 
more to realize that they are brothers in the s • ^ 
against those who would hurry ahead to ^ to p» or 
to Eden This leaves them more than a hun / 
behind Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said of Li r 
and Conservatism that "each is a good hah, but an , 
sible whole . . In a true society, in a true man, 

must combine" j the 

Having said alt these kind words about his men , 
Sensible Liberal, the Conservative, who doesnt ^ 
many Liberals are sensible anyway, takes most of 
back and reaffirms his faith in Conservatism as a ’ 
superior way of life When pressed for a final rec on S 
of the differences between Conservatism and Libera 
he finds at least three worth senous consideration 
First, there is what we have already noted as the d 
ence of temper, of "mood and bias ” The Conservati 
stated preferences for stability over change, expend ^ 
over experiment, intuttion over reason, tradition over c 
osity, and self-control over self-expression are enough 
themselves to set him apart from the Liberal His urges a 
toward aristocracy, the Liberal’s toward democracy H® 
makes peace, the Liberal disturbs it He likes to look bac » 
the Liberal to look ahead He rallies to Burke, the Libera 4 
to Tom Paine Perhaps it is too simple to say that the«e dif- 
ferences in temper boil down to the contrast between p®*' 
sunjsm and optimism, but it cannot be denied that the 
Conservative’s confidence in man, democracy, and prog- 
ress js far Weaker than the Liberal's, even the Sensible 
Libera) s The Conservative finds this the best of all pos- 
sible worlds and is generally content to leave well enough 
alone The Liberal thinks the world can stand a lot of im- 
proving and cannot wait to get on the job (Or, J 5 
Ambrose Bierce put it, the Conservative is “a statesman 
enamored of existing evils,” the Liberal one "who wishes 
to replace them with others ") 

Next, the Conservative cannot understand how anyone 
could mistake his political principles for those of Liberal- 
ism If the Liberal wants to draw on his stockpile for such 


ideas as the diffusion of power and the balancing of rights 
and duties, the Conservative will enter no strong objec- 
tion, but he wants it clearly understood that some of his 
ideas are private property If the Liberal wants to share 
them, he will first have to abandon Liberalism, for the 
hard coie of Conservatism is an austere distrust of the 
hopes of Jefferson and the promises of Bentham Cer- 
tainly the Liberal cannot challenge the Conservative’s 
peculiar claim to the preference for liberty over equality, 
emphasis on constitutionalism rather than democracy, 
fear of majority rule, admiration for aristocracy, and devo- 
tion to the rights of property Certainly the Conservative’s 
mission, so different from the Liberal’s, gives his political 
faith a quality all its own 

fn the end, the difference between Conservatism and 
Liberalism seems to be this both are devoted to liberty 
as we have known it in the West, but the Conservative 
thinks of liberty as something to be preserved, the Liberal 
thinks of it as something to be enlarged The Conservative 
suspects that a country like the United States or Britain 
has got just about as much liberty as it will ever have, that 
the liberty we enjoy cannot be increased but only redis- 
tributed among ourselves, and that persistent efforts 
either to increase or redistribute it may bring the whole 
structure of freedom down m rums The Liberal, on the 
other hand, is confident that no country has yet ap- 
proached the upper limits of liberty, that giving new 
freedoms to some men does not necessitate taking away 
old liberties from others, and that the structure of freedom 
will fall slowly into decay if it is not enlarged by the men 
of each generation 

As a result of this clash of opinion on the scope of lib- 
erty, the Conservative and the Liberal seem to have 
switched sides m the everlasting debate over man and 
the state Historically, the Conservative has been the one 
to emphasize the social nature of man and primacy of the 
community, the Liberal to insist, in Ramsay Muir’s words, 
“that the source of all progress Ues in the free exerase of 
individual energy” Today, the Conservative is heard to 
declaim grandly on the liberty of the individual, the Lib 



cral to speak gravely of the needs of the community 
What has happened, of course. Is that the Liberal has kept 
his ends constant while shifting his means Hi* Libcrnhsin 
now involves, again according to Muir, 

a readiness to use the power of the State for the pur- 
poses of creating the conditions within which indi- 
vidual energy ban thrive, of preventing all abuses of 
power, of affording to every citizen the means of ac- 
quiring mastery of his own capabilities, and of 
establishing a real equality of opportunity for alL 
These aims arc compatible with a very active policy 
of social reorganization, intolclng a great enlarge- 
ment of the functions of the State 

The italics arc mine and ere designed to light up the 
course of Liberalism since the da)S of Manchester and 
Monticello While the liberty of the individual rather than 
the authority of the community remains the Liberal's cen- 
tral concern, he now believes, though he may not believe 
so forever, that a judicious use of political authority can 
expand rather than contract the sum of individual liber- 

This is exactly what the Conservative has always 
doubted the capacity of government to give more men 
more liberty Now that the Liberal turns so readily to po- 
litical power ns the answer to all our ills, he doubts it all 
the more Whether his new difference of opinion with the 
Liberal is destined to persist and even widen, he is not 
prepared to say Ad he knows is that he has remained con- 
stant, shunning both individualism and collectivism, while 
the other fellow has swung from one extreme to the other. 
And constant he will remain He wid continue to respect 
the authont) of government, while demanding that gov- 
ernment direct this authority to its histone tasks He wall 
continue to assert the primacy of the community, while 
warning us not to confuse government with the great com- 
munity that embraces it To those of his countrymen who 
wallow m the trough of rugged individualism he wad 
speak out boldly for the authority of the community To 
those who nde carelessly on the wave of collectivism he 



will speak out no less boldly for the liberty of the individ- 
ual. In the future as in the past his anxious concern will 
be the size and scope of government, not its authority. 

Some readers may feel that this account has been much 
too kind to Conservatism take any ism, it is open to at- 
tack on many grounds, and it might seem useful to record 
the most common criticisms that have been launched 
against it from the Center and Left, and that have, more 
than incidentally, been worried over most openly by sen- 
sitive Conservatives What follows here is not a senes of 
strictures against temperamental conservatism, winch in 
its pure form is about the meanest of human attitudes, or 
against possessive conservatism, which m its pure form is 
simply the familiar posture of the man who shouts, “I'm 
all right, Jackl" Nor will this be a denunciation of men 
who think and vote like conservatives but talk like liberals, 
or of other men who mouth the rolling phrases of rever- 
ence and tradibon in support of ends that are narrow, 
cheap, covetous, or downright dishonest This critique 
takes Conservatism at face value and finds weaknesses 
and faults that seem inherent m its teachings The indict- 
ment of Conservatism, even when preached and prac- 
tised by the best of men, reads thus 

Conservatism is mean in spint The great tree of this 
ancient faith, however lush its foliage, stands eternally 
upon the dank ground of temperamental conservatism 
No matter how noble the sentiments and unselfish the 
impulses that apparently lead men to embrace Conserva- 
tism, the psychology of fear and habit remains the most 
important single influence There must always be some- 
thing a little mean and morally stingy about a faith 
grounded m fear rather than courage, habit rather than 
imagination, inertia rather than activity 

Conservatism is materialistic No matter how vigorously 
the Conservative may protest his preference for values 
over things, his arguments are in the end simply a defense 
in depth of a way of life in which property is the indis- 
pensable element. 

Conservatism is selfish The Conservative, hardly coma- 



eral to speak gravely of the needs of the community 
What has happened, of course, is that the Liberal has kept 
his ends constant while shifting his means His Liberalism 
now involves, again according to Muir, 

a readiness to use the power of the State for the pur- 
poses of creating the conditions within which indi- 
vidual energy ban thnve, of preventing all abuses of 
power, of affording to every citizen the means of ac- 
quiring mastery of his own capabilities, and of 
establishing a real equality of opportunity for all 
These aims are compatible with a very active policy 
of social reorganization, tnvolvtng a great enlarge - 
merit of the functions of the Slate 
The italics are mine and are designed to light up the 
course of Liberalism smce the days of Manchester and 
Monticello While the liberty of the individual rather than 
the authority of the community remains the Liberal’s cen- 
tral concern, he now believes, though he may not believe 
so forever, that a judicious use of political authority can 
expand rather than contract the sum of individual liber- 

This is exactly what the Conservative has always 
doubted the capacity of government to give more men 
more liberty Now that the Liberal turns so readily to po- 
litical power as the answer to all our ills, he doubts it all 
the more Whether his new difference of opmion with the 
Liberal is destined to persist and even widen, he is not 
prepared to say All he knows is that he has remained con- 
stant, shunning both individualism and collectivism, while 
the other fellow has swung from one extreme to the other 
And constant he will remain He will continue to respect 
the authority of government, while demanding that gov- 
ernment direct this authority to its historic tasks He wall 
continue to assert the primacy of the community, while 
warning us not to confuse government with the great com- 
munity that embraces it To those of his countrymen who 
wallow m the trough of rugged individualism he will 
speak out boldly for the authonty of the community To 
those who nde carelessly on the wave of collectivism he 



will speak out no less boldly for the liberty of the mdivid* 
ual In the future as m the past his anxious concern will 
be the size and scope of government, not its authority 

Some readers may feel that this account has been much 
too kind to Conservatism Like any ism, it is open to at- 
tack on many grounds, and it might seem useful to record 
the most common criticisms that have been launched 
against it from the Center and Left, and that have, more 
than incidentally, been womed over most openly by sen- 
sitive Conservatives What follows here is not a senes of 
stnctures against temperamental conservatism, which in 
its pure form is about the meanest of human attitudes, or 
against possessive conservatism, which m its pure form is 
simply tfie familiar posture of the man who shouts, Tm 
all right, Jackl H Nor will this be a denunciation of men 
who think and vote like conservatives but talk like liberals, 
or of other men who mouth the rolling phrases of rever- 
ence and tradition in support of ends that are narrow, 
cheap, covetous, or downright dishonest This critique 
takes Conservatism at face value and finds weaknesses 
and faults that seem inherent in its teachings The indict- 
ment of Conservatism, even when preached and prac- 
tised by the best of men, reads thus 

Conservatism is mean in spmt The great tree of this 
ancient faith, however lush its foliage, stands eternally 
upon the dank ground of temperamental conservatism 
No matter how noble the sentiments and unselfish the 
impulses that apparently lead men to embrace Conserva- 
tism, the psychology of fear and habit remains the most 
important single influence There must always be some- 
thing a little mean and morally stingy about a faith 
grounded in fear rather than courage, habit rather than 
imagination, inertia rather than activity 

Conservatism is materialistic No matter how vigorously 
the Conservative may protest his preference for values 
over things, his arguments are in the end simply a defense 
in depth of a way of life m which property is the indis- 
pensable element 

Conservatism is selfish The Conservative, hardly coind- 



dentally, is well served by ibis Way of life While claiming 
to defend an entire society, lie really defends his own posi- 
tion in it Conservatism is inherently an attitude of pos- 
session — whether possession of property, status, reputa- 
tion, or power— and it fears change primarily because 
this means dispossession All philosophies, it may be 
argued, are rationalizations of Self-interest, but the inter- 
ests of Conservatism are especially scU-centercd, for they 
are vested rather than pursued 

Conservatism is smug The Conservative defense of the 
established order implies thorough satisfaction with things 
as they are A faith that moves men to declaim, “When ft 
is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change," 
is dangerously complacent 

Conservatism is callous When the Conservative argues 
that proposals to cure one social ill may open the way to 
ills more dangerous and irrepressible, ho exposes himself 
to doubts about his much vaunted compassion Even in its 
noblest momenfa, Conservatism has displayed a fine faculty 
for ignoring suffering and Injustice 

Conservatism Is negative It fa always on the defensive, 
never m the lead Its positive contributions to progress 
have all been made under duress The only new Ideas ft 
has come up with arc a thousand new ways of saying no 
Worst of all, it is deficient in that \ cry sense of adventure 
and constructive imagination wliich created the great tra- 
dition it is now so anxious to defend 

Conservatism fa inherently Self -contradictory How can 
the Conservative preach both the inviolability of the per- 
son and the primacy of society, the ascendancy of moral 
values and the concept of property ns a natural right, the 
aristocratic spirit and the brotherhood of men as children 
of Cod? How can he square the gospel of rigid morality 
with the counsel of expediency, devotion to ritual vvith 
respect for facts, the urge to do right with the feeling that 
to do anything is rather useless, the need for moderation 
and compromise with the overriding duty to frustrate 
radicalism? And how can any philosophy be so pessimistic 
and optimistic at the same time? These are accusations of 

'E3. D CFNT i Ufa \ 


inconsistency that the Conservative should have a good 
deal of trouble answering 

While these may be written off as a rather frivolous 
catalogue of complaints, the Conservative must also face 
charges that could make a mockery of his pose as defender 
of human liberty 

Conservatism is anti-humamsbc It speaks of compas- 
sion, reverence, and kindness, yet it is grounded in a view 
of human nature that is essentially defamatory Conserva- 
tism claims to be no more than distrustful of human na- 
ture, but distrust moves easily into disdain, disdain mto 
contempt, and contempt into hatred The Conservative 
proclaims the dignity of man to be the most wonderful of 
modem spiritual forces, at the same time, his assumption 
of an immutably wicked human nature is a standing insult 
to all men everywhere 

Conservatism is anti-democratic It is hard not to be 
skeptical about the Conservative defense of constitutional 
democracy Conservatism fought it savagely at every stage 
of its development and never embraced it until compelled 
to choose between surrender and oblivion, and even now 
the embrace is more forced than fond The Conservative's 
opinions and assumptions about liberty, equality, progress, 
individualism, authority, class, suffrage, and education are 
all at odds with the democratic faith Enough Conserva- 
tives remain bluntly honest in their distaste for democracy 
to bnng this whole faith under deep suspicion 

Conservatism is anti-intellectual Not only our current 
crop of obscurantists, whom some writers insist on labeling 
conservatives, but the very noblest and most enlightened 
Conservatives betray a fundamental distrust of reason, 
intelligence, and learning The nature of its mission forces 
Conservatism to harp on the limits of reason, condemn 
bold flights of fancy, prefer character to intellect, and 
single out the intellectual as the real threat to ordered 
liberty “We do wrong to deny it," warned Keith Felling, 
the Conservative historian, 

when we are told that we do not trust human reason 
we do not and we may not. Hu man reason set up a 


cross on Calvary, human reason lot up the cup of 

hemlock, human reason waJ canonised In Notre 


This Is honest Conservatism It Is also unadorned antl- 
intellcctualum, and that, the world knows. Is A brute 
force almost impossible to hokl in check. 

The final Indictment of Conservatism is directed toward 
its influence rather than its principles Because of the na- 
ture of its arguments, it is on unfailing obstruction to even 
the kind and rate of progress that it is willing to sponsor or 
tcilerate If it plaj s its own game too hard and well, U playi 
straight into tho hands of its real enemies The Conserva- 
tive knows that reason has worked miracles among men, 
jet his enumeration of the evils it has also worked l* am- 
munition for the obscurantists He believes that the lend 
of man is the key to survival, yet his evaluation of human 
nature is hardly calculated to inspire moral and spiritual 
uplift He Is convinced that there is no workable alterna- 
tive to totalitarianism except constitutional democracy, 
jet his refusal to clasp democracy passionately to his 
bosom cannot help but discourage other soldiers in the 
cause He proclaims the importance of myth to social con- 
tinuity and national unity, jet he questions those demo- 
cratic myths that inspire most of his brothers-in liberty 
And no matter what he says about equably, authority, 
unity, or expediency, he aids tho enemy if ho says it can- 
didly Anti humanism, anti-democracy, and anti-Intellec- 
tualism arc ingrained features of Conservatism that are 
malign in essence and pernicious in influence. 

The Conservative's answer to this critique, when he 
bothers to make it, is direct and confident The allegations 
of meanness, smugness, callousness, and selfishness, he 
says, are at best matters of opinion, at worst a display of 
ill mannered name-calling Materialism is simply a nasty 
word for a truth about man — his inherent nerd for prop- 
erty — which the Conservative alone is frank to acknowl- 
edge Negativism, too, is a nasty word, slapped on men 
who are honest enough to assert that “constructive im- 
agination” has destroyed mote than one sound society. 


And as to the brand of self-contradiction, there never was 
a body of doctnne that did not seem self-contradictory to 
its detractors The inconsistencies of Conservatism are 
marks of a faith that has come to grips with the real world, 
which abounds in inconsistencies 
To the most serious indictments the Conservative re- 
plies that surely one may love men without adonng them, 
practice democracy without making it a religion, and 
thank Cod for the gift of reason without forgetting that, 
like other gifts of God, it has been grossly abused In af- 
firming the sms of man, the difficulties of democracy, and 
the limits of reason while remaining a stanch defender of 
each, the Conservative displays a devotion to the best m 
our tradition that will outlast the idolatry of those who 
profess no doubts Finally, in rebutting the charge that 
he defeats his announced purposes of insuring progress 
and defending liberty, the Conservative reminds his de- 
tractors that prudence, which he pnzes highly, keeps him 
from pushing any belief or mood too far His final appeal 
is to the history of the past fifty years, which he reads 
largely as a record of follies and cruelties committed by 
men who exercised no prudence and entertained no 
doubts — and yet whose spiritual and political bens call 
him, the Conservative, nasty names 

Even if this critique be regarded as a caricature of the 
case against Conservatism, there can be little doubt that 
the men of this famous ism are almost always at a rhetori- 
cal disadvantage in arguing with the men of Liberalism 
and Radicalism To react rather than act, to say no rather 
than yes, to counsel caution rather than adventure, to 
rationalize suffering and evil rather than to move boldly 
against them — this is to occupy an uncomfortable position, 
especially in a society in which hope rather than despair 
is the rightful legacy of the people What is exciting about 
a country like England or the United States is the possi- 
bility of genuine progress, what is worth preserving in 
them is largely the work of progressives, reformers, and 
chance-takers Small wonder that Conservatism feels itself 
permanently “one-down” to Liberalism and even Radical- 
ism, small wonder that it gets far less credit than does any 



other leading persuasion from the men who wnte our his- 
tories and instruct our children It is, indeed, “the thank- 
less persuasion” Neither the satisfaction he derives from 
the unassailable logic of his position nor the security he 
finds in his sense of identity with the nation can spare the 
thoughtful Conservative the realization that he can never 
be loved or celebrated as is the Liberal or Radical He is, 
and knows he is, an unpopular man Yet if the truth be 
known, he rejoices in the fact He would rather be ngbt 
than popular, rather tell the eternal truth than a strategic 
he, rather be out of public favor as a man than in it as a 
sycophant If his contemporaries will not thank him for his 
dogged pursuit of the Conservative mission, perhaps pos- 
terity will, if posterity also spurns him, then he will find 
his reward in heaven One way or another the thankless 
persuasion has a way of generating its own thanks 

In conclusion to this chapter and anticipation of those to 
come, I think it essential to reduce the principles of Con- 
servatism to a handy check-list, I do this with genuine 
reluctance We have already probed too deeply into a 
mind that hates to be analyzed, we have been much too 
ideological about a faith that has no use for ideology 
There is a quality of mystery, a feeling for things unseen 
and therefore best left undefined, in Conservatism It is 
a whole greater than and different from the sum of its parts, 
it is a stew whose wonderful flavor cannot be accounted 
for simply by ticking off its ingredients I therefore ask the 
reader, when he has picked over these ingredients, to 
throw them quickly into a pot labeled "peace” and stir 
them gently with a spoon labeled "prudence " 1 ask him 
also to remember that the Conservative stands on a firm 
institutional base to spin out h\s reluctant thoughts, that 
many of his ideas are quite meaningless unless referred 
back to a particular society and tradition Here, for what it 
may be worth, is a bare-boned rendering of the principles 
of the Conservative tradition 
The mixed and immutable nature of man, in which 
wickedness, unreason, and the urge to violence lurk al- 
ways behind the curtain of civilized behavior 


The natural inequality of men in most qualities of mind, 
body, and spirit 

The superiority of liberty to equality in the hierarchy 
of human values and social purposes 
The inevitability and necessity of social classes, and 
consequent folly and futility of most attempts at leveling 
Tbe need for a ruling and serving aristocracy 
The fallibility and potential tyranny of majority rule 
The consequent desirability of diffusing and balancing 
power — social, economic, cultural, and especially political 
The rights of man as something earned rather than 

The duties of man — service, effort, obedience, cultiva- 
tion of virtue, self-restraint — as the pnce of rights 

The prime importance of private property for liberty, 
order, and progress 

The uncertainty of progress — and the related certainty 
that prescription, not purposeful reform, is the mainspring 
of such progress as a society may achieve 

The mdispensabihty and sanctity of inherited institu- 
tions, values, symbols, and rituals, that is, of tradition 
The essential role of religious feeling m man and or- 
ganized religion in society 

The fallibility and limited reach of human reason 
The civilizing, disciplining, conserving mission of edu- 

The mystery, grandeur, and tragedy of history, man’s 
surest guide to wisdom and virtue 
The existence of immutable principles of universal jus- 
tice and morality 

The primacy of the organic community 
Reverence, contentment, prudence, patriotism, self- 
discipline, the performance of duty — the marks of the 
good man 

Order, unity, equity, stability, continuity, security, har- 
mony, the confinement of change — the marks of the good 

Dignity, authority, legitimacy, justice, constitutionalism, 
hierarchy, the recognition of limits — the marks of good 



The absolute necessity of conservatism — as tempera- 
ment, mood, philosophy, and tradition — to the existence 
of civilization 

To those who deny that they have ever met a complete 
Conservative, a man who accepts every last one of these 
principles, the answer is that Conservatism, as James 
Burnham has pointed out, is a compelling but not despotic 
syndrome of logically and lustoncallv related beliefs 
A man who subscribes to most of them will probably sub- 
scribe to all, a man who cannot subscribe to such concepts 
as the need for an aristocracy, the sanctity of tradition, 
and the beauties of order is really not a Conservative at 
all To those who deny that they have ever met a perfect 
Conservative, a man who honors every last one of these 
principles m his daily existence, the answer is that Con- 
servatism, unlike Liberalism, Marxism, and Vegetarian- 
ism, expects only imperfect allegiance from imperfect 
men It asks only that they do the very best they can to be 
prudently faithful, and that, when they have departed 
from the teachings of the tradition, they return to it in 
good time with sore consciences Men under pressure may 
ignore the Conservative tradition carelessly or even ma- 

ConservaUves ^ deSp ‘ Se “ “ d remam 




O R 

How to Have the Best of 
Two Possible Worlds 


Theodore Roosevelt, who “loved a good fight" even 
more dearly than did his cousin Franklin, once took time 
out from smiting his enemies to observe "Infinitely more 
important than the questions that divide us . are the 
great and fundamental questions upon which we stand 
alike simply as Americans” It is not recorded that 
his enemies nodded assent, but we of a later generation, 
privileged to enjoy the Colonel without having to line 
up for or against him, might well find this his most pene- 
trating comment on the American scene “The great and 
fundamental questions” upon which the Roosevelts and 
their worst enemies were able to “stand alike" formed, and 
still form, an impressive unity of principle and practice 
There has been, in a doctrinal sense, only one America 
We have debated fiercely, but as men who agreed on 
fundamentals and could thus afford to sound more fero- 
cious than we really were We have all spoken the same 
political language, we have all made the same political 



assumptions, we have all thought the same political 
thoughts Even the South, Gunnar Myrdal reminds US, has 
few political principles that are distinctly its own "The 
Southerner, too, and even the reactionary Southerner, 
harbors the whole American creed in his bosom” One 
may speak with confidence and propriety of "the Ameri- 
can political tradition ” 

It is with this tradition or mmd or faith, with the way 
most Americans have thought and talked about politics 
and government, that we are concerned in this chapter 
American conservatism has been, for at least a hundred 
years, the intellectual prisoner of the American tradition 
Before we can describe the prisoner, we must know some- 
thing about the prison in which it has been kept — a very 
happy prison, let it be noted, and one in which it has been 
kept both comfortably and profitably I propose to take 
this fresh look at the tradition in three installments first, 
by searching the American political mind for instances of 
liberalism and conservatism, second, by observing this 
mind in action, by noting how faithfully our political prac- 
tices have reflected our political preaching, and third, by 
surveying the history of American progressmsm for evi- 
dence of an underlying conservative mood and purpose 

The American political tradition is a product of American 
history A vast pattern of forces — ethnic, geographic, reli- 
gious, political, sociological, economic, cultural, ideologi- 
cal — has molded our thoughts into something “character- 
istically American ” If it is impossible to weigh accurately 
any one of tlie physical or human-directed forces that have 
shaped our way of living and thinking, it is possible, and 
for our purposes essential, to point to several unusual cir- 

The first of these is the bigness and diversity of 
America Never in history has one free government ex- 
tended over so many people and so broad an expanse of 
habitable territory Never have men of so many nations 
and of so many ways of thinking about God tried to live 
together m freedom and mutual trust Never, therefore, 
has a people felt so pressing a need for ideals that would 


bmd them together m voluntary unity The Americans 
found their unifying ideal at the outset of their great ad- 
venture, and the ideal has continued to hold their im- 
agination The American political mind has been one mind 
not least because the people of this nation had to talk the 
same political language or fall into envious, squabbling, 
fratricidal pieces 

It is not surprising that this unifying ideal turned out to 
be a consuming belief in individual liberty Thoughts of 
liberty — bold, optimistic, adventurous thoughts — came 
naturally to men who lived in the American env ironment 
Through most of the first three centuries — in the years 
when Williams was preaching, Franklin tinkering, Wash- 
ington persevering, Jefferson inspiring. Lincoln suffering, 
even so recently as when Bryan was protesting — America 
was a land m which men could literally behold opportu- 
nity, There were forests uncut, soil unplowed, nvers un- 
travded, resources untapped The frontier beckoned and, 
beckoning, touched both those who answered and those 
who did not The results are chronicled m words like 
"enterprise," "energy," "achievement," "individualism," 
"progress," and "mobility," the only words that can de- 
senbe the astounding pilgrimage of a new race of men 
more concerned with getting ahead than with holding 
their own The American political mind has been a liberal 
mind, for change and progress have been the American 
way of life 

For all its depressions and wars, for all the bitter wages 
it has paid for the sm of slavery, Amenca has had less than 
its share of misery and frustration, more than its share of 
happiness and fulfillment The depressions have left few 
permanent scars, the wars of one hundred and fifty years, 
except for the one Americans fought with themselves, 
have been fought elsewhere, the sin of slavery sits lightly 
on the conscience of a people that has Lttle sense of sm 
Fewer tears of sheer gnef and hopelessness have been 
shed on this continent than in those from which we came, 
more aspirations and ambitions have been gratified We 
have been, as David Potter reminds us, a "people of 
plenty" Even the poor have "never had it so good 



When the Greek Jew told Carl Becker, "I like it fine 
In America is everything better for poor people like me," 
he spoke, perhaps not unwittingly, like a true American 
Most Amencans, whether rich, middling, or poor, have 
liked it fine Thus, while their collective mind has been lib- 
eral— that is, hopeful and expansive — about techniques and 
prospects, it has been conservative — that is, caubous and 
traditional — about institutions and values And whether 

in a liberal or conservabve phase, Amencans ate not given 
to speculation or dogma 

Big, diverse, rich, new, and successful, this country is 
also blessed by the happy accident that it has no feudal 
past America emerged from the Revolution, as it went into 
it, with a society more open, a government more consti- 
tutional, a religion more vaned and tolerant, and a mind 
more independent than anything Europeans would know 
for generabons to come Ocean, wilderness, ethnic and 
religious diversity, the very absence of physical presences 
like castles, cathedrals, and guildhalls — these and other 
circumstances made certain that the fight for release from 
feudalism, which has marked and marred the course of 
political and social development in Europe, would be over 
in America almost before it had begun The Amencans 
were privileged to begin their experiment in liberty with- 
ou eudal tenures, centralized and arbitrary government, 
a national church, a privilege-ridden economy, and heredi- 
ary Stratification The American pohbcal mind has thus 
been conservabve twice ov«r, for, m the words of Louis 
iartz, when men “have already inherited the freest so- 
ciety in the world and are grateful for it, their thinking is 
bound to be of a solider type " 

These massive circumstances, working on the Christian 
entage of justice and virtue and on the English heritage 
of law and liberty, shaped the American tradition. A peo- 
ple who have never had to think about how to wipe out 
an oppressive put, and „, ely hoiv „ M 
m .miserable present, have thought of liberty as a heritage 
to be preserved rathe, than as a goal „ be fought for The 
* p°>f f 1 •“'fctro that is so conserve .hoot 
hbenJm, so defensive about th. „pe„ society, that it has 


made Liberalism, which it calls “the American Way," a 
national faith Let us look more carefully at this unusual 
tradition and its built-in paradox 

The American political tradition is basically a Liberal 
tradition, an avowedly optimistic, idealistic, even light- 
hearted way of thinking about man and government. It is 
stamped with the mighty name and spirit of Thomas Jef- 
ferson, and its articles of faith, a sort of American Holy 
Wnt, are meliorism, progress, liberty, equality, democracy, 
and individualism 

The American mind has been entertained but never 
really convinced by generations of revivalists It simply 
refuses to believe that every man’s nature is immutably 
sinful, if it is not perfectibihst, it is certainly mehonst It 
makes more of man’s benevolence than of his wickedness, 
more of his malleability than of his perversity, more of his 
urge to he free than of his need to submit, more of his 
sense of justice than of his capacity for injustice, and it 
plainly lacks any secular counterpart of the doctnne of 
Original Sin It assumes that men are rational beings who 
need little guidance from the past (especially a past in the 
form of hierarchy and dogma), that their nght to pursue 
happiness is matched by an ability to catch up with it, and 
that properly organized and sponsored instruments of 
education ran lift up the most bumble man to wisdom and 
virtue It assumes, too, that the whole species is on the 
march, doggedly if not always comfortably, toward an 
ever higher level of dignity and intelligence. 

America is a country whose golden age lies in the fu- 
ture. Everything is on the way up standard of living, 
gross national product, hours of leisure, number of cars 
and symphony orchestra, life expectancy of the average 
man. Through reason, experiment, self-improvement, 
and education, above all through the release of individual 
energy by one hundred and eighty million people who 
can be happy if they try, the nation is moving onward 
and upward to “the sunlit plains of freedom and abun- 
dance" The American political mind thinks in terms of 
inevitable progress, whether in material, moral, or cultural 
affairs Even today, in an age of uncertainty and discontent. 



When the Greek Jew told Carl Becker, “I like it fine . 

In America is everything better for poor people like me,’ 
he spoke, perhaps not unwittingly, like a true American 
Most Americans, whether neh, middling, or poor, have 
liked it fine Thus, while their collective mind has been lib- 
eral— -that is, hopeful and expansive — about techniques and 
prospects, it has been conservative — that is, cautious and 
traditional about institutions and values And whether 

in a liberal or conservative phase, Americans are not given 
to speculation or dogma 

Big, diverse, neb, new, and successful, this country Is 
also blessed by the happy accident that it has no feudal 
past America emerged from the Revolution, as it went into 
it, with a society more open, a government more consti- 
tutional, a religion more varied and tolerant, and a mind 
more independent than anything Europeans would know 
for generations to come Ocean, wilderness, ethnic and 
religious diversity, the very absence of physical presences 
Me castles, cathedrals, and guildhall*— these and other 
circumstances made certain that the fight for release from 
eudalism, which has marked and marred the course of 
political and social development in Europe, would be over 
m America almost before it had begun The Americans 
were privileged to be gm their experiment in liberty with- 
out feudal tenures, centralized and arbitrary government, 
a national church, a pnvilege-ndden economy, and heredi- 
tary stratification The American political mind has thus 
been conservative twice over, for, in the words of Louis 
TT* 2 ’ ““ “ have aJre *ty inherited the freest so- 

ST. .IT are f “ ’«• tbe» flunking is 

bound to be of a sohder type ” 

b2^ T SMVe circumstanc «> working on the Christian 
Se . a ” d v,rt “ e “ d °» the English hentage 

o law md liberty, shaped the American tradition A peo- 
ple who have never had to th.nfc about how to wipe out 

oppressive past, and only rarely how to act drastically 
. t * P ,es '“*. !>*'» thought of liberty as a hentage 
res^aTT*. “f" “ * e=«l to he fought for Tta 

hberalis . tradition that is so conservative about 

liberalism, so defensive about the open society, that it has 


Ism be gone The American political mfnd has always as- 
sumed that the state cannot possibly be anything more 
than the Individuals who make it up, and it has placed 
man rather than the community at the center of its 
thoughts “Statism" is the word we detest and therefore 
hurl at our political opponents, "individualism" is the 
word we love and therefore make the test of all govern- 
ment activity Whether competitive, co-operative, or down- 
right abrasive, individualism is the natural condition of oh 
men and the reliable goad of most progress 
The American is not so sure of all these principles as he 
was a hundred or fifty or even ten years ago Yet he has 
no intention of launching a search for a substitute faith. 
He continues to assume human decency, chcnsh progress, 
proclaim liberty, put his faith in democracy, preach equal- 
ity, and reduce all social problems to terms of th e individ- 
ual and his rights He lacks today, as he has always lacked, 
any sense of the high tragedy of history The miseries of 
the past, he will tell you, like those of the present, were 
visited upon men so silly and ignorant as to fad to choose 
democracy and make it work. Nothing in the past is con- 
clusive proof that men must always lie silly and ignorant, 
certainly not men who live in this blessed environment 
and “live up to the principles of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence " “America was promises," sang the poet. 
"America is promises," answers the American Commu- 
nism is not our death warrant but Gods way of testing 
our devotion to liberty, atomic energy does not mean 
doom but unlimited progress The American remains op- 
timistic about man's nature and destiny. 

Having said that the most S3cred articles of the American 
faith axe Liberal in essence and purpose, I hasten to add 
this qualifying remark if this faith is truly liberal, then 
somewhere in it lies a deep strain of philosophical con- 
servatism If the principles just advanced were the whole 
American political tradition, then it would be properly 
styled radical rather than liberal A closer look at this tra- 
dition reveals a number of other, hardly less sacred prin- 
ciples— some of them genuinely conservative, some at 


7 * 

it cannot really believe that America, like other great 
civilizations of the past, is destined to decay and disappear 
We have always been a nation obsessed with liberty 
Liberty over authority, freedom over responsibility, rights 
over dubes — these are our histone preferences From the 
days of Williams and Wise to those of Eisenhower and 
Kennedy, Americans have talked about practically noth- 
ing else but liberty Not the good man, but the free man 
has been the measure of all things in this "sweet land of 
liberty”, not national glory but individual liberty has been 
the object of political authority and the test of its worth 
The Amencan political mind has refused to think in 
terms of class, order, aristocracy, expertise It assumes that 
every man is a precious child of God and is thus, m a vis- 
ible as well as mysbc sense, the equal or potential equal 
of all other men In pracbce, the pious truth that all men 
are created equal means equality of pohbcal voice, equal- 
ity of opportun’ty, equality of considerabon, equality be- 
fore the law, and equality in natural and consbtutional 
rights It is a harsh sort of equality — prompting men to 
say "I'm as good as you" rather than “You’re as good as 
me”— but it is equality with precious few reservations 
The common man is the one man with a secure place in 
the Amencan dream 

The Amencan tradibon has room for one form of gov- 
ernment — democracy, "government of the people, by the 
people, for the people ” It must be of the people because 
they are the only source of legibmate power, by them be- 
cause they alone have the nght and capacity to judge the 
rightness of the laws under which they live, for them be- 
cause their liberties and welfare are the only reason that 
government exists at all Forms of government that place 
the power of final decision in a man or group or class or 
party are wicked, unnatural, and doomed to destruebon 
The basis of government is the consent of the sovereign 
people, the wisest of pohbcal oracles is a clear majority 
of this people 

The core of our faith is individualism “The state was 
made for man. not man for the state” is the magic formula 
with which Americans bid the evil spirits of authoritarian- 


light in discovering signs of diversity in American folk- 
ways, he is doubly delighted by signs of unity Although 
he boasts of his country's size and variety, be is aware that 
these give nse to highly centrifugal urges that must be 
balanced by a strong sense of unity For this reason, he 
has almost always put a higher value on unum than on e 
pluribus Loyalty, which he likes to call patriotism, de- 
mands unquestioning devotion to a whole senes of in- 
hented ideals and institutions The American is deeply 
satisfied with the legacy of his fathers, and he has amassed 
an extensive arsenal of symbols and rituals with which to 
express this satisfaction His mmd places patnotism at the 
top of its catalogue of public virtues 

The spirit of constitutionalism also pervades our politi- 
cal thinking. When the American proclaims his devotion 
to political democracy, he is thinking of democracy in 
which power is diffused by a written Constitution and the 
wielders of power are held in check by the rule of law 
“A government of laws and not of men” is his criterion of 
good government. In his opinion, there is no incompati- 
bility between democracy and constitutionalism The 
latter is simply a method for making the former work 
through safe, effective, predictable methods All man, 
however good they may be, are susceptible to the tempta- 
tions of power, all men, however rational they can be, may 
lose their heads in a tight situation They must therefore 
govern themselves under self-imposed restraints that de- 
liver them from temptation and lead them to sober deci- 
sions The spirit of American constitutionalism, needless to 
say, is made visible in a Constitution that is not just casu- 
ally admired but actively worshipped 

Traditionalism, unity, loyalty, constitutionalism— these 
are, by any test, profoundly conservative principles In- 
deed, we might label them Conservative if it were not for 
the open contempt that our mind has displayed toward 
the Conservative faith Their presence in a Liberal tradi- 
tion does not deliberate it, rather do they strengthen it 
and save it from full-blown radicalism 
The Conservative can peer into the American mind and 
discover a number of other beliefs that resemble articles 



least as conservative as liberal, all of them forming a stub- 
born dike that keeps our Liberalism from spilling over 
into Radicalism If they seem inconsistent with those al- 
ready presented, that in itself illustrates a vital truth about 
our political thinking inconsistency rarely bothers the 
American mind On the contrary, many of us would insist 
that these inner tensions and contradictions are exactly 
what make our tradition so stable and enduring Pushed 
to its logical conclusion, any one of these ideas runs 
head-on into an array of other ideas The democratic mind, 
however, like the democratic community, does not push 
things to logical conclusions 

The first and most visible of our conservative principle* 
is traditionalism Some readers may have noted that the 
words mind, "faith," and "tradition” have been used 
interchangeably This has been done in order to point up 
two important truths the American feels more deeply 
than he thinks about political principles, and what he feels 
most deeply about them is that they are the gift of great 
men of old Where else but in America would the editors 
of a progressive business magazine write so confidently 
•Political philosophy has made absolutely no progress in 
its essentials from the tune when Adams, Jefferson, Ham- 
ilton. and Madison were its world masters to the present”? 
Where else would an unreconstructed Liberal begin a 
book about his country with a chapter entitled "The 
Foumtog Falters Had tie Rrght Idea’ ? “To air extent rrn- 
paralleled among modem peoples/' Benjamin Wright re- 
. We , have , been hving on the ideas of our fore- 
oears And our forebears, h e could have added, lived on 
of th l e,r [ 0re bears The founding fathers of 1776 
for su PP°rt to the founding fathers of 
and nnnlt 1 ^ l6 ® 9 ^though we face problems 

01 Wh f h ** Revolutionists could not have 
dreamed, we refuse to abandon either their language or 
the* assumptions Traditionalism « ingrained m the 

a™™» poito, n, ^ ^ fMth , 

tt “ l " '“gUy oi hvo ««o*W conditions 
of tie liable conmonrty uoaty md loyalty For J 1 hrs do- 


American has always emphasized the right and necessity 
of free association, he has emphasized, too, that successful 
association calls for a spirit of brotherhood and fair play 
For some years now, all these conservative and poten- 
tially conservative principles have been waxing stronger 
m the American mind We arc not quite so sure as we 
once were of the full relevancy of our Liberal principles, 
sve are more inclined to speak today m terms of tradi- 
tionalism, unity, loyalty, constitutionalism, religion, 
higher law, duty, morality, responsibility, and coopera- 
tion While our tradition remains Liberal, we arc c\er 
more insistent that it is just that a tradition 
The American political mind has never thought much 
along consciously radical lines Its Liberal principles, to be 
sure, arc perfectionist and egalitarian, and to many critics 
from abroad they have seemed a standing invitation to 
Ic\ cling and anarchy Such an interpretation of the Ameri- 
can faith overlooks three Important points the sobering, 
stabilising influence of the conservative elements in this 
faith, the extent to which Liberal principles have actually 
been realized in this country and thus have been dcradi- 
cakzed in influence if not in implication, and the fact that 
Ibis is, after all, a faith, a set of ideals to be realized per- 
fectly only in a far-off future and only by following the 
teachings of our ancestors In the American dream there 
is room for Utopia, but short cuts to it are regarded as 
roads to rain The American mind, always interested in 
moral reform, has been sold some amazing prescriptions 
for specific ills, it has never been sold a panacea Social- 
ism and Communism have had at least as much trouble 
with the American mind as with the American environ- 
men h and home-grown radicalisms have not fared much 
better. The American mind favors Liberalism, wluch is 
something quite different from radicalism 
The extreme of reaction has even less standing in the 
American tradition The true reactionary, as we have 
properly defined him, wants literally to recreate the past 
to re-establish a church, to revive capital punishment for 
stealing and blaspheming, to take away the vote from all 
but the well fixed and well bora, or to outlaw labor un- 



of his own faith Two of these are closely associated, reli- 
gion and the higher law Whatever doubts they may ex- 
press in private, most Americans remain publicly convinced 
that God had much to do with the rise of tins Republic, 
and that democracy must be “strengthened with the 
strength of religion “ At the same time, they continue to 
believe that behind their liberties, laws, customs, rules of 
conduct, and Constitution stand eternal principles of right 
and justice While they are not so articulate about the 
higher law as they once were, they have not yet sur- 
rendered to the logical arguments of their phdosophers. 
They, too, hold certain truths to be self-evident 
The American definition of liberty has always included 
the nght to acquire, hold, use, and dispose of private 
property, as well as to enjoy the fruits that can be fairly 
reaped from it The political storms of one hundred and 
fifty years have shaken but not destroyed our traditional 
belief in "the prime importance of private property for 
liberty, order, and progress” 

Article 15 of the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 
*77 states another belief from which the American 
mind has never wandered 

That no free government, or the blessing of 
hherty can be preserved to any people, but by a 
firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, 
ruga ty and virtue, and by a frequent recurrence 
to fundamental principles 

Free government rests on a definite moral basis a vir- 
tuous people The decay of a people’s morals signals the 
o sue government The American believes these 
things intensely, even as he errs 

0 „Tf! f mind ha, always iked a number of knit! 

mo 5" P n 7 ? mdlvld “»h™ <he free individual must 
5° <h P™*' “ d P u bbc life, he mult wort, 
individual r CVe ’ mUSt dut y as Clbzen As f fee 

Cod ft, I “ sT” 11 * ™> of hi! freedom to 

Sd JT 11 Purt-oakr. he ,» el- 

mil. co-operation, charity, 
fraternal aympathy, „ „ blt £ ^ 



doing and shortcoming in American public life It might 
be useful, however, to review several political and social 
practices that have put sharp checks on the vaunted free 
play of liberty, equality, democracy, and individualism 
The first and greatest of these is constitutionalism, the 
reality of which is even more conservative than the ideal 
The Constitution was written by men who believed in free 
government and thus wanted the majority will to prevail, 
but only after it had been strained through a variety of in- 
genious devices and had proved itself "persistent and 
undoubted ” Later generations of Americans have not, in 
practice, retreated one inch from the realistic assumptions 
of the Framers Although they have broadened the elector- 
ate to nearly the maximum limits, they, too, have acted 
as if they did not trust each other very far Written con- 
stitutions, the separation of powers, federalism, bicameral- 
ism, the Presidential veto, judicial review, representation, 
staggered elections, civil supremacy, the delaying mecha- 
nisms in the machinery of Congress — these arrangements 
are the diffusion and restraint of popular power in the 
grand manner We had our chance, in the first two decades 
of the twentieth century, to democratize our system thor- 
oughly with devices like initiative, referendum, and re- 
call, and we proved beyond a doubt that we preferred 
representative, limited, divided, delay ng government 
In no free country is concerted reform so difficult to 
achieve, and we may assume that Americans prefer it 
this way Their conservative Constitution is both symbol 
of unity and servant of stability 

The American two-party system has long been the de- 
spair of doctrinaires at home and abroad Most critics have 
focused their scorn upon the motley make-up of each 
party and the huge gulf between promise and perform- 
ance It is possible that there is a more substantial reason 
for their despair the American party system is the most 
conservative political arrangement in the Western world, 
designed by accident or Providence to delay, check, and 
frustrate the ill-digested plans of men while permitting 
them to govern m a responsible and popular manner What 
bothers the impatient liberal or radical most about the 



ion* The few Americans who think this way in the privacy 
of their dens — oak-paneled, not bone-littered — are no 
part of the American political mind The American in- 
dulges — one might say that he often wallows — in nostalgia, 
but he does not really want to go back to the days of 
Washington and Jefferson He might like to recreate what 
he thinks was the moral climate of those wonderful days, 
or perhaps that of the hardly less wonderful days in Abi- 
lene under Taft or Independence under McKinley, but 
he is a practical fellow who knows that what’s done is 
done, and who hopes to domesticate rather than eradi- 
cate television and atomic energy While he draws con- 
sciously on his past, he lives in the present and looks for- 
ward keenly to the future His mind is a prominent Lib- 
eral structure resting on a solid conservative foundation 
Radicalism and reaction, Bolshevism and Toryism, “have 
no house" with the American. 

In every society, healthy or otherwise, a gap stretches visi- 
bly between ideal and reality — between what people say 
and what people do, between what they think in public 
and what they assume in private In no country m the 
Western world has this gap been so wade as in the United 
States In a showdown between Liberalism and conserva- 
tism in American political thought. Liberalism wins out 
nine times out of ten In a showdown between liberalism 
and conservatism in American political practice, conserva- 
tism wans out almost as monotonously Wc have a long- 
standing habit of doing political business and carrying on 
social relations in a conservative way So, for that matter, 
do all successful free countries This does not mean that 
our practices are illiberal. It does mean that they fad to 
match the high ideals to which we are pledged in our 

I do not propose to rewash soiled linen, we Americans 
wash our soiled linen so often that it never gets a chance 
to dry We all know how far short our performance as 
citizens, voters, and taxpayers falls from the spirit of moral 
emocracy and the letter of the written law, and it would 
seem superfluous to present additional evidence of wrong- 



of collectivism Our tradition makes much of nghts, our 
constitutions and laws make almost as much of duties The 
American myth is the man who wall not be fenced in, the 
American reality is the man who is drafted to die in far 
places and for dun purposes In America, as in all free and 
stable countries, tbe community has had primacy after all. 

The ideal of free individualism is sobered by reality in 
a second direction, we, too, like Burke's England, have 
had our “little platoons " We have not wandered about 
like homeless atoms, with no buffer between each of us 
and the great community We have had our Gemeinschaf- 
ten, organic communities like the family and neighbor- 
hood Wo have had our wonderfully American CetcUschaf- 
ten, voluntary associations like churches, lodges, orders, 
unions, corporations, co-operatives, leagues, and partner- 
ships In many instances these groups have arisen and en- 
compassed individuals in so natural and unforced a man- 
ner as to seem themselves almost organic Co-operation 
and intercourse, not nigged individualism, have been the 
Amencan reality. We are beginning to see at last, through 
the haze of our mythology, that the men who lived on 
the frontier depended mightily on one another for security 
and prospenty Together, not alone, they cleared land, 
raised barns, husked com, defended their families, and 
preserved law and order Together men have built 
America and are building it even now 

Still another example of practical conservatism is our 
class structure The American ideal exalts equality and 
decnes class, Amencan reality sacrifices equality to liberty 
and assumes the natural existence of class Our class struc- 
ture is, to be sure, peculiarly Amencan it is fluid, flexible, 
and open-ended, it displays a comforting bulge in the 
middle, its chief entenon is achievement Yet it is a class 
structure, though ordinary Americans feci uneasy when 
talking about it and oratoncal Amencans call such talk 
treason The evidence presented by men like Robert Lynd 
and Lloyd Warner, even when taken with the salt of skep- 
ticism and pepper o£ patriotism, leaves an unpleasant taste 
that cannot be killed by mumbled incantations about 
equality and human dignity The concept of class. Amen- 



American two-party system is that it practically never, no 
matter which party wins and on what promises, produces 
» government willing and able to put through a program 
, «?”> u gj*g<nng reform The two-party system works to 
lengthen the delays built into the constitutional process 
° 2“ e “ ectlve means for keeping hostile classes, 
, gs, and sections together Most Americans, 
mm®,* f IS ^ Ut . ,0 ^ 1S wa y» express their hearty ap- 

proval of a political arrangement that has served to stabi- 
S T 7 ' ? d conserVe In end, they agree with Her- 

2? our ***** for & ** •*«** 
,S ^ pnce of Un,0n ” F ° r most Amen- 
l .h-La ,. Ca conserv atives masquerading as sentimental 

3 F— »- no. 

tweonetfwwn! '*?'• * ven among progressives of the 
pnmank I ^ bas .' )een one government that cents 
P ™Z P ,ot “' <i‘ individual s rights and clear flic 
" > "J ^ Th * “““votive feelity, m Amenea 

b '“ «“ »' eovemm«. that mter. 
the mdiiad r ‘ ® ul ^ e 00,1 reduce the free play ol 
»lway> m behalf of a larger in- 

may be .rgL^ tS, ,h co ”“” u » lt x" « pnbhc' It 

plain rei/ifv bUl ““ s a seman tic escape from the 

have counted he* *7”* We ’ mdividu ahstic Americans, 
mto line Such V | y 011 6 0Vem ment to bring individuals 
W W totr ^ 31 CumQ SMs *» d Louis tfartz 
that "from the val ^ P 02n!ef %« hi the former’s words, 

fraditionaUy been ho S £,leT POS ?° n ^ Americans have 

meat, we W l ? t0actl(W b y the federal govem- 
Amencans have ** mfprence *“* 

action undertaken^ JT* f° St,le to coUectlve 

horn being boshle to enfl t™* IOCal govemrnent * ” Far 
always insisted tha# , co ® ectlve action, Americans have 
o' government, 

IfcTj & CO™ ,<,Ve!s ' **« pontive steps m the 
Ism has rlT ^T -ty Although Amencan P colIeetiv. 

the individualist tradition 'Sh ti ‘"‘ ,f " re , "conulable mth 
oaaroou, ,t ha, none die less been a form 



in a tumult of innovation ” This is not, I insist, an entirely 
new role for America, though it has grown in importance 
under the menace of totalitarian radicalism We have 
long been a citadel of conservatism, hut we and the world 
alike have had trouble seeing ourselves clearly Now we 
are looking at the whole course of our history with fresh 
eyes, and we find, to our surprise, that America has been 
no more cxpen mental than some countries and less experi- 
mental than others in educabon, religion, social relations, 
culture, art, law, and political mstitubons, that we have 
been truly restless, experimental, unconcerned about 
tradibon only m economics and technology Even here we 
have stayed within significant limits We have tinkered 
with machines and men more freely than with laws and 
customs, and we still insist that society will absorb tech- 
nology rather than technology derange society We ac- 
claim automation, confident that we can enjoy its abun- 
dance without having to abandon our cherished ways, we 
shudder at Socialism, positive that it will smash them 
beyond repair 

The political American is the most conservabve of alL 
Not since the early years of the Republic, when the neces- 
sity was pressing, have we indulged freely in polibcal m- 
venbon The move for “direct democracy” in the early 
part of this century is the one possible excepbon to this 
statement, and that never realized one quarter of its 
aspnabons An Englishman, Lord Bryce, called our at- 
tenhon forcefully to the manner in which the federal sys- 
tem invites us “to try experiments m legislabon and ad- 
ministration”, another Englishman, a sort of latter-day 
Br yce, asked me recently why just once, in all the years 
m all the states, no one had ever so much as proposed a 
five-year tnal of the cabinet-parliamentary system Ne- 
braska's unicameralism and Georgia’s eighteen-year vot- 
ing law were not, I had to confess, the handiwork of a 
fruly experimental people Even the Tennessee Valley 
Authority is a product of chance rather than of conscious 

Our social reforms, too, bear the stamp of pracbcal con- 
servatism The United States, Arthur Schlesinger, sr , tells 



can style, lies deep in the American mind and shapes far 
more of our social outlook and political practice than we 
are even now prepared to admit Recognition of social 
levels has persisted throughout our history Like our co- 
lonial forebears, we have always thought in terms of "the 
better sort," "the middling sort,'’ and “the poorer sort " It 
is characteristic of Americans, practical conservatives and 
sentimental Liberals to the end, that most of them place 
themselves in “the middling sort " 

We ask many things of our schools to teach our chd- 
dren to read, write, figure, use their hands, ply a trade, 
understand nature, enjoy leisure, appreciate culture, be 
good citizens and good sports, and think constructively 
The most important mandate we have given them, how- 
ever, is to teach the children the ways of the fathers The 
school has been guardian of tradition, instructor in patriot- 
ism, preacher of morality, interpreter of fundamentals It 
has taught Liberalism, but as tradition rather than rational 
scheme The flag and the picture of Washington axe no 
less standard equipment than the primer and blackboard 
I do not mean to ndicule this great work If schools are 
to be truly public, they must reflect the public's common 
interests and agreements, and that, in America as m all 
countries, means teaching ideals and facts that support 
rather than subvert the established order This has been a 
doubly important fun ebon of education in this new coun- 
try, for our schools have shouldered the main burden of 
integrating the immigrant’s children into American so- 

This catalogue could be extended further It could be 
argued, for one example, that the churches, with memo- 
rable exceptions, have preached the Liberal gospel and 
supported the conservative order, or, for another, that the 
labor unions, again with memorable exceptions, have been 
stabilizing rather than dislocating forces on the American 
scene Yet enough has been said to give credence to the 
belief that we have overplayed myth and underestimated 
reality The American has been a long time digesting this 
truth, but at last he is beginning to recognize that his 
country, in Time’s words, “is the citadel of conservatism 


in a tumult of innovation * This is not, I insist, an entirely 
new role for America, though it has grown in importance 
under the menace of totalitarian radicalism We have 
long been a citadel of conservatism, but we and the world 
alike have had trouble seeing ourselves clearly Now we 
are looking at the whole course of our history with fresh 
eyes, and we find, to our surprise, that America has been 
no more experimental than some countries and less experi- 
mental than others in education, religion, social relations, 
culture, art, law, and political institutions, that we have 
been truly restless, experimental, unconcerned about 
tradition only in economics and technology Even here we 
have stayed within significant limits We have tinkered 
with machines and men more freely than with laws and 
customs, and we still insist that society will absorb tech- 
nology rather than technology derange society We ac- 
claim automation, confident that we can enjoy its abun- 
dance without having to abandon our cherished ways, we 
shudder at Socialism, positive that it will smash them 
beyond repair 

The political American is the most conservative of all 
Not since the early years of the Republic, when the neces- 
sity was pressing, have we indulged freely m political in- 
vention The move for “direct democracy" in the early 
part of this century is the one possible exception to this 
statement, and that never realized one quarter of its 
aspirations An Englishman, Lord Bryce, called our at- 
tention forcefully to the manner in which the federal sys- 
tem invites us “to try experiments in legislation and ad- 
ministration”, another Englishman, a sort of latter-day 
Bryce, asked me recently why just once, in all the years 
in all the states, no one had ever so much as proposed a 
five-year trial of the cabinet-parliamentary system Ne- 
braska's unicameralism and Georgia’s eighteen-year vot- 
ing law were not, I had to confess, the handiwork of a 
truly experimental people Even the Tennessee Valley 
Authority is a product of chance rather than of conscious 

Our social reforms, too, bear the stamp of practical con- 
servatism The United States, Arthur Scblesinger, sr , tells 


8 4 

us, has “nearly always set the pace for the Old World In 
reform zeal," yet the zeal has not been allowed to get out 
of hand "The surprising thing," Professor Schlesinger ad- 
mits at another page of his American as Reformer, “is that 
the tempo of reform in America was not far more precipi- 
tate” The American has kept reform, like almost every- 
thing else, withm the bounds of tradition and reality 
Some of our citizens have lived in phalansteries and others 
have been nudists, some have worn bloomers and others 
have li\ed on wheat germ, some have fought capital pun- 
ishment and others have bid us repent or die Most of us, 
one acknowledges somewhat wistfully, have conformed 
to pattern and been bored by reformers Our successful 
reforms, those to which a majority of the people eventu- 
ally lent their support, were in the realm of moral conduct 
and touched established institutions only incidentally Tho 
appeals of their proponents were pitched in conventional 
terms We were not called upon to scrap or transform some 
malfunctioning part of the going order, but to put it in the 
hands of better men or to rebuild it to the original specifi- 
cations of our reverend fathers As it has been said of the 
English, it may be said even more confidently of the 
Americans “The best way to recommend a novelty to 
them is to make them believe it is a revival ” We believe 
m inevitable progress — along a track already laid down 
and not to be jumped Whether we stand or move, we 
like to do it super antiquas vias That, more often than 
not, has been the style of political and social development 
m the United States 

For several decades, Samuel Eliot Morison has pointed 
out, most histones of the United States have followed “the 
Jefferson-Jackson-F D Roosevelt line" There was a time, 
fifty years ago, when our historians presented “the Federal- 
lSt-Whig-Repubbcan point of view”, there may be com- 
ing a time (heralded by men like Louis Hacker and Allan 
Nevms) when “the wise and good and neh” will again be 
given preferential treatment, even a time when the Alien 
and Sedition Acts, the Fugitive Slave Act, and the Palmer 
raids will be presented as Good Things in American his- 

Ctl'CTIYATTtVI JL-*n3 minuni 8j 

lory Yet t’>e present. rrvwt of B* trill learn our V-ivni 
from (nm w**» wri’e fei t!*« Lfl**r»I tradition. wto »ec t xtr 
lJlteey it a grand luttle |r(«trn "fir*!" progressives and 
lotP tntrmts and leave ttnaU tlonU wl kh tram we 
thmU all be m, 

Ah!***;*!! few of tn will caril at llJi warmhearted ap- 
proach lo Arwilran hlitjfy, we Can built that th* «p- 
proach alio U* IotI bradcd. rvcfessor Mrtimn actnowh 
edgrs iKat ’the ]rf’rr»-*tU-> Inc H tlx- one t» it the main 
itrnn cf United Statei 'irtmtir’ lu* fe!Vrwrd,* Imt 
add I "I llio lr!^»T LSlI there Ktt l»m ll"^rthrf t no 
moth of It. rx) that iV jvrwrt ituilxn li unlulineed 
and unhealthy, lo create a *nt el nroUcnl itrfrtv 
type. NVe need a UmlnJ States Mil cry written from a 
mncly con tor's !i>e point d rirw* Wr nerd morr than 
tint- a «hoV ktH cf 'uvly rourmtivf* hiitotin, 
articlr*, monographs, anti biographies that W anew, not 
only at our ccr.wrvsthri and aptalnti, but at the heroes 
and henries of the pn g irni w tradition. For example, 
while tome htitorurn tmrtur to prs-wot V. ilium*. Frank- 
lei, Jefferson. and Jackson a* uncommon democrats, others 
might present them at charactmitic Americans-- •** 
democrats with doubt*, pro g rmisrs with nostalgia, re- 
former* with a feeing for the limits of ir/erro. 

la the briefest manner, awl (« the limited purpose of 
dnrbpmj a disputable thesis, this is exactly what 1 plan 
to do in the rest of ihi* chapter; to re-era mine the most 
notable of our progressive movements and democratic 
heroes foe evidence of reahen. traditionalism, restoration* 
fain, and propcriy<onscioujne»s, for evidence, that is to lay, 
of conservatism. Thii will be, let it be clearly understood, a 
narrow gauge Inspection, carried through in auch a way as 
to rtnphajue the conservative aide of their thought and 
practice Yet this approach l* essentia! to an understanding 
of the causes and character of American progressist im, and 
thus of the American tradition The reader should take 
care not to inject any more conservatism into (his interpre- 
tation of American liistory than 1 have Injected myself 
Whatever one may aay about mm like Jeflmon and 
Woodrow Wilson, one ought not, even semantically, class 



them as conservatives They were Lbcrab, great liberals, 
men who sponsored bold reforms calculated to lead to a 
larger measure of liberty and equality Yet they were 
liberals “American style,” and any honest accounting of 
their fdeals and activities wall show strong traces of con- 
servatism Here is a merely suggestive outline for a “sanely 
conservative” history of American ptogressivism. Here 
are the movers and shakers seen in the harsh light of con- 

The democratic heroes of the colonial penod set a pat- 
tern that later generations of progressives were to follow 
faithfully The three famous "democrats" of this early age 
~~Roger Wiliams of Providence, John Wise of Ipswich, 
and Benjamin Franklin, “a citizen of Boston who dwelt 
for a little while m Philadelphia”— were conservatives In 
many of thefr ideas and methods No man In American 
history has a more impressive claim than Wiliams to the 
title of prophetic radical, yet no man ever made more, in 
theory and practice, of the truth that liberty rests on law, 
government on authority, rights on responsibilties. Hu 
famous letter of 1655 to the town of Providence — -“There 
goes many a ship to sea"— cncs out for rereading by those 
who insist on painting him in unrelev ed radical colors 
Wise, the gadfly of oligarchy in church and state, pitched 
his arguments for Congregational democracy in terms of 
the revival of ancient ways and restoration of ancestral 
faith Franklin was considerably less of a stormy petrel 
than Wiliams or Wise He mado a peace of convenience 
with every order in which he lived, and prophesied that 
liberty, which he loved dearly and served nobly, would 
be won by slow stages along familar paths As for the 
other so-called radicals of the colonial penod, especially 
those on the great frontier, they were for the most part 
men whose quarrel was with the established order as ad- 
ministered rather than constituted It is all but impossible 
to discover a genuine radical on the colonial frontier The 
limited radicalism of the old West is made especially clear 
in the modest petitions and almost apologetic actions of 
the North Carolina Regulators 
The American Revolution was as respectful of the past 


as an authentic, luge-scale rebellion can ever be If the 
Americans were the most successful revolution anes of all 
times, they were revolutionaries by chance rather than 
choice Until the last few months before independence, 
the steady purpose of their resistance was to restore an 
old order rather than build a new one Even after July 4, 
1776, they confined themselves largely to a war of libera- 
tion They had little desire to make the world over The 
world — at least their comer of it — had already been made 
over to their general satisfaction Their goal was simply to 
consolidate, then expand by cautious stages, the large 
measure of liberty and prosperity that was part of their 
established way of life In the words with which Burke 
honored those who unseated James II, the Americans 
sought to "make the revolution a parent of settlement, 
and not a nursery of future revolutions " In their practical 
and theoretical arguments, and in those triumphs of con- 
structive statesmanship, the first state constitutions, they 
proved themselves the world’s most conservative radicals, 
the world’s most sober revolutionists Washington, not 
Sam Adams, was the man of the Revolution, the Massachu- 
setts Constitution of 1780, as much as the Declaration of 
Independence, « xpressed its spirit 

The comparative sobriety of American progressmsm 
was displayed in three events between Yorktown and 
Washington’s second inaugural in the limited scope of the 
"hideous rebellion" led by Captain Daniel Shays, another 
reluctant rebel who objected, perhaps more violently than 
necessary, to the way a good order was being badly ad- 
ministered, in the manner m which such opponents of the 
Constitution as Patrick Henry, George Mason, Richard 
Henry Lee, and Elbndge Gerry appealed to old ways and 
virtues and branded it a “dangerous innovation”, and in 
the manner in which, after their defeat, they accepted the 
Constitution and went out to capture the seats of power 
according to the rules of the game The only change they 
demanded m the rules of 1787 was the addition of a Bill 
of Rights, which was a defense of liberties already won 
rather than a vision of liberties hoped for No one fact in 
our history so illuminates the character ol the American 


people and their progressive wing as the refusal of the 
anti-Federahsts, and of all of their descendants, to push 
for a second Constitutional Convention 
Thomas Jefferson was, in every sense of the word, a 
genuine liberal, so genuine, self-conscious, and inspiring 
indeed that he will remain forever the First Source of 
American Liberalism I would not dream of converting 
him to conservatism at this late date As liberal and not 
radical, however, he showed a sober streak of conservatism 
in theory and employed a healthy measure ot conserva- 
tism in action Extreme Leftists, like extreme Rightists, 
do him no honor in claiming him for their own I am not 
going to crush my readers with quotations from Jefferson, 
we all quote him too much and too smugly (As a Know- 
Nothing candidate for Congress observed, his words can 
be used “every which-a-way, he wnt so much") I am 
going to suggest — well, with the aid of just a few quota- 
tions — that he had much to say in his lifetime about the 
corruptibility of men ("Human nature is the same on 
every side of the Atlantic"), the danger of unbndled 
popular power (“One hundred and seventy-three despots 
would surely he as oppressive as one"), the necessity of 
constitutional restraints (“In questions of power, then, let 
no more he heard of confidence in man, but bind him down 
from mischief by the chains of the Constitution"); the 
hmits of change ("I am certainly not an advocate for fre- 
quent and untried changes ui laws and institutions”) , the 
need for superior men (“The natural aristocracy I con- 
sider as the most precious gift of nature, for the instruc- 
tion, the trusts, and government of society"), and the 
necessity of preserving the established order, which he 
rightly considered to be menaced by industrialization and 
urbanization ("When we get piled upon one another in 
large cities, as in Europe, we shall . go to eating one 
another as they do there”) 

Jefferson’s actions were always more conservative than 
his words He accepted the Constitution, struck for re- 
forms long overdue, and failed, except in the repeal of the 
Judiciary Act of 1801 and repudiation of the Sedition Act, 
to make any real dent in the Federalist legacy As Presi- 


dent he governed in the spirit of his first inaugural address: 
"We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists*’ Jeffer- 
son’s hope was to build, on foundations already settled, a 
yeoman republic where "virtue and wisdom" would ani- 
mate a republican government and property would be 
broadly distributed in an agrarian economy It was Hamil- 
ton, not Jefferson, who had his eye on the American fu- 

Andrew Jackson, it could be said, was Thomas Jeffer- 
son with a few more muscles and a few less scruples Cer- 
tainly it is a mistake to see m him, or m the movement he 
symbohzed, the marks of true radicalism He, too, dreamed 
of a yeoman republic, and his supporters remained faith- 
ful to the ideal of liberty and property under law The 
fight between Jackson and Biddle, like that between Jef. 
ferson and Hamilton, was a contest between champions 
of two kinds of property Jackson, hke Jefferson, could 
nghtly claim that his land was the foundation of the in- 
herited order The old hero evoked, writes Marvin Meyers, 
"the image of a calm and stable order of republican sim- 
plicity, content with the modest rewards of useful toil," 
against "an alien spirit of nsk and novelty, greed and ex- 
travagance, rapid motion and complex dealings" His 
presidential messages overflow with veneration for the 
founding fathers, his vigorous use of the executive power 
was aimed squarely at restoring their balanced system of 
government In the movement to which Jackson gave his 
name one may certainly find, side by side with bumptious 
egalitarianism and stirrings of industrial capitalism, a 
“powerful strain of restoration, a stiffening of republican 
backs against the busy tinkenngs, the restless projects of 
innovation and reform" 

The anti-slavery movement lends additional support to 
the thesis advanced in this review of American progressiv- 
lsm Rarely has a free and decent people moved so gingerly 
against a flagrant evil The abolitionists, the only radicals 
involved m the controversy, were notoriously few and 
were out of step with Northern sentiment, an amazing 
number of them, Rowland Berthoff has pointed out, "were 
genteel folk of the old order” The typical anti-slavery 


9 * 

racy was the nearest thing to constitutional radicalism ever 
subscribed to by any sizable number of people in this 
country Yet he, too, spoke in terms of a happier past and 
sought only to re-create the old Republic of diffused 
power, equal opportunity, and small capitalist enterprise 
Theodore Roosevelt has already undergone so full a 
posthumous conversion to conservatism that we can pass 
him by with this apt comment from Richard Hofstadter 
"His own inner impulses were quite conservative, and it is 
only as an astute and flexible conservative, not as a pro- 
gressive or reformer, that he can be sympathetically ex- 
plained " Woodrow Wilson, an American who had actually 
read Burke, built the liberalism of bis Presidency on the 
bedrock of conservatism Through all his days he remained 
a sentimental traditionalist, a severe moralist, a devoted 
constitutionalist His New Freedom bad a limited goal 
to jestore the kind of competitive economy in which 
small enterprise could flourish He used government pri- 
marily "for the purpose of recovering what seems to have 
been lost our old variety and freedom" His pro- 
grcssivism looked back as often as it looked ahead “If I 
did not believe that to be progressive was to preserve the 
essentials of our institutions, I for one could not be a 
progressive " 

Was Franklin D Roosevelt a radical, liberal, or con- 
servative? Was the New Deal revolution, evolution, or 
preservation? Questions like these are not easily answered, 
certainly not in this generation We are all too close to 
Mr Roosevelt, too ardently enlisted for or against his 
New Deal Yet I do think, with some reservations, that 
when future historians come to grips with man and move- 
ment, they will agree on these points 

To the extent that he had a political philosophy — and 
it was sometimes hard to find one beneath hi$ pragmatism 
— Roosevelt was a Liberal His optimistic view of human 
nature, his oblmousness of sin and the tragedy of history, 
his devotion to the idea of progress, his uncritical accept- 
ance of democracy — these were the outward signs of an 
inner commitment to the whole Jefferson To the extent 
that he had a political program — and it was sometimes 

9 * 


hard to find one beneath his opportunism — Roosevelt was 
a liberal. Hu receptiveness to new ideas, his capacity {of 
adventure, his devotion to tho underdog — these were the 
credentials of a bold progressive Yet his liberalism tipped 
over only rarely into radicalism, for it was held in balance 
by healthy infusions of traditionalism and conservatism, 
elements in the Roosevelt syndrome that are on public 
display in the old house at Hydo Park. Roosevelt’s dis- 
satisfaction with the way Arnenca had worked out was fax 
from general He was convinced that a few imaginative 
reforms — for example, those services or controls now pro- 
vided by the Securities and Exchango Commission, Ten- 
nessee Valley Authority, National Labor Relations Board, 
and Social Security Administration — would make the old 
order as good as new and the new order as good as the 
old He always denied that he was doing anything that 
Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, and Theodore Roose- 
velt would not ha vo done in the same fix. His own mature 
estimate of tho effects of the New Deal — no revolution, 
some evolution, much preservation — was as accurate as 
anyone’s. There is little doubt that the New Deal pushed 
mto unexplored country, there is equally little doubt that 
it follow td directions pointed out by the New Freedom 
and the Square Deal Although many Americans think of 
Roosevelt as a dangerous radical, a judgment that astounds 
foreign observers, he is still just as roundly denounced by 
hard-bitten radicals for having failed to seize a golden op- 
portunity — a thoroughly frightened people — to work a 
major transformation in American life 

In the end, this “thoroughly frightened people" may 
catch the primary attention of historians They were never 
so frightened as to want a new game under new rules 
and with a new deck. They wanted only, and Roosevelt 
promised no more, a New Deal In the darkest days of 
the depression they gave 38,000,000 votes to the two old 
parties, less than 1,000,000 to the Socialists, and exactly 
102,991 to the Communists Had the new President tried 
to give them more than a new deal all around, they would 
have risen up — as they were later to do over his plan to 
"pack the Court" — and refused to accept it Actually, 



Roosevelt needed checks on his opportunism rather than 
cn his progressmsm In a speech at Syracuse in the cam- 
paign of 1936, he gave this mature account of his basic 

Out of the strains and stresses of these years we 
have come to see that the true conservative is the 
man who lias a real concern for injustices and takes 
thought against the day of reckoning The true con- 
servative seeks to protect the system of private prop- 
erty and free enterprise by correcting such injustices 
and inequalities as arise from it The most serious 
threat to our institutions comes from those who re- 
fuse to face the need for change Liberalism becomes 
the protection for the farsighted conservative 

I am that land of conservative because 1 am that 
land of liberal 

Sixteen years later, m Columbus, Ohio, another can- 
didate of “the party of the people,” Adlai Stevenson, spoke 
his mmd on liberalism and conservatism 

The strange alchemy of time has somehow con- 
verted the Democrats into the truly conservative 
party of this country — tho party dedicated to con- 
serving all that is best, and budding solidly and safely 
on these foundations The Republicans, by contrast, 
are behaving like the radical party — the party of the 
reckless and the embittered, bent on dismantling in- 
stitutions which have been bmlt solidly into our social 
fabnc . 

I owe it to you to say that I think of our social- 
security system and our Democratic Party’s sponsor- 
ship of the social reforms and advances of the past 
two decades as conservatism at its best Certainly 
there could be nothing more conservative than to 
change when change is due, to reduce tensions and 
wants by wise changes, rather than to stand pat stub- 
bornly, until, like King Canute, we are engulfed by 
relentless forces that will always go too far 



These words are a fitting climax to this outline for a 
“sanely conservative" history of American progressivism 
We could bolster this thesis with additional evidence — 
for example, by calling attention to the life and hard times 
of our third parties and to a labor movement whose giants 
have been Samuel Gompers, John L Lewis, William 
Green, and Philip Murray, men who reflected the temper 
of their constituents and fought for a better life within 
rather than against the American economic system We 
could even go back a hundred years for a closer look at 
Emerson and his "radical” friends It is more to the point, 
however, simply to recall the election of 1952, when a 
conservative liberal and a liberal conservative, each speak- 
ing of progress along familiar paths, competed for the 
favor of the people It will not be the last such election in 
American History 

This review offers a useful key to American intellectual 
history, one that may serve to unlock some of the confusion 
about liberalism and conservatism m the American mind. 
To use it satisfactorily, we must be far more explicit than 
we have hitherto been about the distinction between 
change, a transformation of values or institutions m which 
government plays no direct part, and reform, a transfor- 
mation of values or institutions through the conscious use 
of political authority Industrialization, which puts chd- 
dren to work in factories, is change, child-labor legisla- 
tion, which takes them out again, is reform When men 
build railroads or invent assembly lines or convert atomic 
energy into power, thus transforming the lives of millions 
of people, that is change When other men pass laws to 
regulate railroads or raise wages of men on assembly lines 
or license producers of atomic power, that is reform Now, 
if we look again at our history, we find that many of our 
so-called conservatives, the "wise and good and rich” on 
the American Eight, were in an important sense not con- 
servatives at all While they could always be counted on 
to oppose reform, they were casual or at best ambivalent 
about change la pouzt of fact, the}’ had sa tataiense stabs 
in social change — spe ci ficall y , in the transformation of this 


country from a predominantly agrarian -rural to a predomi- 
nantly industrial-urban society They did not always know 
what they were doing as they built, mined, tinkered, and 
produced, or financed others to do these things for them 
Those who looked up at all from the exciting business of 
exploiting their own and other people's energies were 
able to argue that their wonderful works were fulfilling 
the promise of the American Republic Yet they worked 
vast changes in every part of our system- They were, 
indeed, among the most marvelous agents of social and 
moral change the world has ever known, and it does them 
something less than historical justice to classify them sim- 
ply as conservatives. 

The liberals, on the other hand — the great progressives 
hke Jefferson, Jackson, Bryan, La Follette, and Wilson— 
were deeply troubled by tbe restless, untamed surge to- 
ward the Hamiltonian dream of busy factories and bustling 
cities. Each of these men, in his own generation, saw the 
order he knew and loved being weakened by the rapid 
advances of invention and technology And each, m his 
own way, looked to reform to chasten change and mitigate 
its worst effects The pre-Civd War progressives, com- 
mitted by circumstance to "wise and frugal government,” 
thought it would be enough to undo the schemes that 
Hamilton and his followers had devised to bolster finance 
and encourage new industry They confined themselves, 
with little real success, to blocking subsidies and reducing 
tariffs At the same time, they pushed for political and 
constitutional reforms that would bring more fanners and 
workers into the lists to challenge "the wise and good and 
rich” for the seats of political power 

After the Civil War, when at last it became apparent 
to both sides that government was alone equal to the 
challenge of change, the progressives shifted their atti- 
tude toward political authority from hostility to sympathy, 
while the men of the Right, who were willing to use gov- 
ernment to their own ends but not to see others use it 
against them, moved into a posture of determined opposi- 
tion to reform The paradoxes in the American experience 
had come to full flower, the agents of change were op- 



posed to reform, the opponents of change committed to iL 
Small wonder that words like liberalism and conservatism 
lost much of their meaning for Americans, especially since 
both sides in the struggle were now arguing in tho lan- 
guage of full-blooded Liberalism 

This chapter has already spawned so many generaliza- 
tions and conclusions that I will say but one word more 
and get on to tho next. When I have spoken of the 
American political mind, I hav e meant, of course, the great 
tradition to which most Americans have been deeply com- 
mitted In this mind, we havo noted, a constant tension has 
existed between liberalism and corners a turn, with the 
former dominant through most of our lustory and the lat- 
ter gam mg strength slowly over the long hauL What 
ought to bo pointed out in addition and conclusion is that 
each rndiv idual mind m America, with few exceptions, is a 
microcosm of tho total mind. It, too, is progressive and 
traditional, idealistic and realistic, experimental and con- 
ventional, anxious to see tho future and concerned to 
honor tho past It is tho mind of a man who lives in a so- 
ciety that has been successful from the start, in whom 
temperamental conservatism, possessive conservatism, and 
traditionalism combine to form a solid foundation 

At the same time, it is tho mini of a man whose hopes 
and mcmoncs alike are framed in terms of human liberty. 
If it is true that in the minds of most Americans, as in 
their political struggles, the desire to go ahead and the de- 
sire to be at rest are constantly at war— with sometimes 
liberalism, sometimes conservatism taking command— it is 
also true that even m our most conservative moments, 
when wo want most to be at rest, we come to rest on a 
tradition — the famous Liberal tradition — that speaks out 
loud and clear m the language of liberty and equality, 
democracy and progress, adventure and opportunity This 
is the reason that no one, neither the foreign observer 
nor the American himself, will ever quite understand what 
the American says and does Tho American, like his tradi- 
tion, is deeply liberal, deeply conservative. If this 11 a par- 



O R 

Three Cheers for the Federalists 
and One for Calhoun 

The men on the Right have been with us from the begin- 
nmg For more than three centuries all manner of Ameri- 
cans have fought with much success to maintain the estab- 
lished political and social order It has not always been 
easy to tell Right from Left The Right, like the Left, has 
shifted ground markedly under the pressures of social 
advance, the progressive attacks of one generation have 
often been the conservative defense of the next Ijke the 
Left, too, it has enjoyed no monopoly of virtue, wisdom, 
and success or of wickedness, folly, and failure 

Yet there is a certain unity, if not always a conscious 
continuity, m the loose succession of groups and move- 
ments that have been styled “conservative’* The Amen- 
can Right has displayed several persistent characteristics. 
Although it has numbered men from all classes and call- 
mgs, it has attracted an especially large proportion of the 
well bom, well placed, and well-to-do These men, actu- 
ally a minority of those Americans willing to be counted 


against reform, have provided most of the energy, talent, 
meditation, and money that have kept tiro Right in busi- 
ness Second, it has opposed consistently the seizure of 
political power by movements dedicated primarily to the 
interests of farmers or workers, which means that it has 
also opposed most of those reforms through which Amer- 
ica achieved its present condition of political and social 
democracy. Finally, it has alwajs been skeptical of the 
Liberal tradition and thus of the more extravagant prom- 
ises of American democracy, even when it has applauded 
the tradition and shouted extravagant promises for its 
own purposes Its attitude toward democracy has shifted 
over the years from savage contempt to measured accept- 
ance, but it has never looked with equanimity on "the 
rule of the untutored majority.” 

This chapter and the next are a compact history of the 
political thinking of tlio American Right from the time of 
the first settlements to 1945 Since the Right has rarely 
gone into action until menaced by the forces of reform, 
wo must take note of the movements that shook its accus- 
tomed repose Since it has made political thought the 
servant of political action, we must Uko note of its success 
in achieving objectives and in shaping the course of our 
history Most important for the stated purposes of this 
book, we must search for the affinities and incongruities af 
American conservatism and the Conservative tradition 
The American Right has been conservative in intent. 
How conservative has it been in influence, how Conserva- 
tive in philosophy? 

The ideas of the colonial Right earned over strongly into 
the early years of the Republic, and vve are therefore en- 
gaged in something more than idle antiquanamsm or fa- 
cile ''tradition making" when w'e examine the record of 
three early conservative movements the Fun tan oli- 
garchy, the conservative Whigs, and the Arnmean Tories 
There were determined conservativ es before John Adams, 
a successful Right before the Federalists 
The grave, godly rulers of early Massachusetts and 
Connecticut were the first sizable company to occupy the 


American Right The Puntan oligarchy, for such these 
men and then government have been properly styled, be- 
gan the defense of their way of life firmly seated in the 
places of power Radicals m England, men with contempt 
for the established cider and with detailed blueprints for 
a new one, they became — thanks to a bracing ocean voy- 
age — conservatives in America, men whose blueprints 
were now the foundation of an order established to their 
liking From the beginning this order was threatened by 
dissent and secularization, and by the demands of less for- 
tunate settlers — many of them as good Puritans as the 
oligarchs — for a larger voice in public affairs The conserv- 
ative Puritans met the “phanatick Opinionists" and "Sow- 
ers of Sedition" with a political philosophy which, when 
stripped of its piety and petulance, proclaimed or assumed 
these principles 

the depravity of all men and political incompetence of 

the natural inequality of men and consequent inevita- 
bility of orders and classes, 
government by an ethical aristocracy, chosen by and 
from men with a stake, both religious and economic, in 
the going order, 

government which, for the glory of God, the good or- 
der of the community, and the Salvation of souls, might 
regulate the lives and enterprises of men to the most mi- 
nute detail, 

the union, indeed oneness, of church and state, 
the existence, in the Scriptures, of **a perfect rule for 
the direction and government of all men in all duties 
which they are to perform to God and men , 

the consequent necessity that men obey the laws and 
defend the traditions of a society based on this divine 

the confinement of change and reform to that which 
can and must take place m the hearts of men, and finally, 
the preciousness of liberty, but of liberty, in John Win- 
thiop's words, "to that only which is good, just, and hon- 
est," a "liberty maintained and exercised in a way of sub- 
jection to authority" 



Government by the favored few, the primacy of the 
community, reverence for tho established order, aversion 
to change— these were the marks of the notable political 
philosophy, a land of incipient American conservatism, 
that moved men like John Wintbrop, John Davenport, 
John Cotton, Nathaniel Ward, John Eliot, William Stough- 
ton, Samuel Willard, and all tho Mathers Physical envi- 
ronment, human nature, English law and tradition, reli- 
gious dissent, and even somo of their own ideas and 
institutions worked relentlessly to undercut their hopes 
for a holy commonwealth, a wilderness Zion that would 
heal a sickly world by the force of good cramp Ic Yet their 
influence, both good and bad, is upon us even today. As 
the best of their teaching* havo given strength to our 
democracy, so the worst of them, tho harsh principles of 
the oligarchs, he deep in the minds of many men on the 

Political debate in the latter half of tho colonial period 
was earned on almost exclusively in tho language of Eng- 
lish Whiggery, and tho men of tho Right joined this de- 
bate with vigor and success A few well-placed gentlemen 
m each colony were so committed to tho Crown, 
drenched in Stuart tradition, or anxious for Anglican re- 
spectability that they talked like descendants of James I 
and Sir Robert 1'ilmcr, but most colonial conservatives 
read their lessons with John Locke and other apologists for 
the Glorious Revolution They stressed those elements in 
the Whig tradition that rationalized the "government by 
gentry" found in most of the colonies a balanced consti- 
tution, a harmonious order of ranks and classes, instru- 
ments of education that taught respect for old wa)s, insti- 
tutions of religion that preached obedience and virtue, 
substantial property qualifications for the suffrage and of- 
fice-holding, a pattern of representation that favored more 
settled areas, and the balancing of liberty with the duty 
of obedience to legitimate authonty 

The hard core of conservative Whiggery was unstinting 
devotion to the British Constitution, "the best model of 
Government that can be framed by mortals “ Cadwallader 



Colden of New York spoke lie mind of the colonial con- 

It seems evident to me that it is most prudent in 
us to keep as near as possible to that plan which our 
mother country has for so many ages experienced to 
be best and which has been preserved at such vast 
expense of blood and treasure 

This was the solemn mission of men like the Hutch m- 
sons of Massachusetts, De Lanceys of New York, and 
Carters of Virginia to make the British Constitution work 
in the American wilderness, chiefly by preserving the so- 
cial, economic, and political leadership of gentlemen 
pledged to serve the public while they served them- 
selves These men occupied a favored position in an order 
modeled as faithfully as possible on that of the old coun- 
try, and they intended to hold it For some, like Colden, 
this meant primary loyalty to Crown and governor For 
others, like Richaid Bland of Virginia, it meant primary 
loyalty to colony and assembly For all it meant obdurato 
opposition to the few outspoken progressives and many 
sdent malcontents in the ranis of the less fortunate 

We must not forget the Tones, the Loyalists of 1776, 
in this account of the early Right, for most of them stayed 
in Amenca and swelled the ranks of post-Rev olutionary 
conservatism They were able to make this silent transi- 
tion without hypocrisy or change of heart because most 
of them bad not been Tones at all, but conservative 
Whigs Loyalists ike Jonathan Boucher of Maryland and 
Virginia, who proclaimed the necessity of unqualified 
obedience to constituted authority, were in a clear minor- 
ity. More typical of the breed were Joseph Calloway of 
Pennsylvania and Daniel Dulany, jr , of Maryland, con- 
servative Whigs who moved or were pushed reluctantly 
into opposition to violent rebellion In the end, because 
of temperament and circumstance, these men proved 
themselves undoubted conservatives- They could protest 
and petition, but they could not take up arm*. 

The contributions of the colonial conservatives are tinu 



fairly stated by their most sympathetic modem chronicler, 
Leonard W Labor ce 

It was not they primarily who gave tin* nation iU 
distinctive and special character, who introduced 
here the ideas of economic opportunity, religious 
liberty , and political freedom whih we hko tu think 
are fundamental doctrines of the American faith. 
But it was the const natives, moic than any 
others, who were responsible for the perpetuation in 
a raw, new country of much that wjs bot in the cul- 
tural heritage frum the Old World . . Without 
them the physical separation from Lurope, the fron- 
tier, and the new environment generally might well 
have led tu the destruction of much tlut we hold im- 
portant in our bvrs today. 

In short, the colonial conservatives fulfilled tho con- 
servative mission. 

Wo have already taken sufficient note of tho conservative 
nature of the American devolution. It is necessary only 
to add that a good share of the military and political lead- 
ership of this reluctant rebellion fell to men on Urn Bight 
Patriots like Ceorgo Washington, Jolui Adams, William 
Samuel Johnson, James Duane, Willum Livingston, Ed- 
mund Pendleton, Landon Carter, Caitcr Braxton, diaries 
Carroll, and Jolui Dickinson were especially anxious to 
keep a tight rein on the course of tho rebellion and to op- 
pose schemes of “die vulgar mob" that might hurry the 
colonics "into a scene of anarchy" Their idea of revolu- 
tion was separation from England wd little more They 
hoped to Veep tho established order as intact as passible, 
and in this order they, like tho colonial conservatives be- 
fore them, intended to hold thur own As we know, they 
were remarkably successful in realizing these hopes Ex- 
cept for their resolute determination to hang on to their 
privileges and responsibilities, the "revolution at homo" 
would surely have been driven to a far more democratic 

The enduring monument to their success is the Amen- 



can Constitution There is no need for us to rehash the 
penis, plans, and pressures that led to Philadelphia and 
z 7$7 ft should be enough to recall that certain men on 
the Right were moved by the real and apparent disorders 
of the 1780 s to act decisively in behalf of stability, prop- 
erty, balanced government, national unity, and rule by 
the gentry Having filled with distinction the incongruous 
roles of rebels against royal and ancient authority, these 
able conservatives now undertook to play the hardly less 
incongruous roles of framers of a new constitution 

The excellence of then handiwork is a tribute not only 
to their genius for constructive statesmanship, but to their 
alert conservatism and sense of continuity with the pash 
Although a few of the ftamers fancied themselves free 

agents with an “opportunity to observe what has been 
nght, and what wrong in other states, and to profit by 
them,” most of them recognized that no new scheme of 
government would succeed unless it were to incorporate 
the best features of colonial and, more remotely, Bnhsh 
government The Constitution was an ingenious plan of 

government chiefly m the sense that its creators made a 
notably judicious selection of familiar techniques and 
institutions There was little that was really novel in it It 

was, indeed, as Raymond English has wntten, “largely a 
codification of existing political wisdom and institutions.” 
What was novel was the courage and skill with which this 
assembly bound together past and future in a plan that 
honored the interests of both. 

If tlie framers were conservative in their choice of avail- 

able materials, they were also conservative va their use of 
them The chief impression one gets from Madison s Nates 
w that our founding fathers were anxious to mate their 
world safe against “an excess of democracy,” against the 
will and whim of "men without property and principle* 
They were therefore determined to create a diffused, lim- 
ited, balanced form of government in which gentlemen 
hie themselves would fill the leading positions. Far from 
presenting a scheme that would have pleased the demo- 
cratic sentiment of the time — unicameral legislature, 
plural executive, annual election for all officers, manhood 



suffrage, a grandiose biff of rights, an easy method of 
amendment— they produced a Constitution with these 
distinctly conservative features the separation of powers, 
in fact and not just on paper, an imposing array of checks 
and balances, the most significant of wliich was the Presi- 
dential veto, a bicameral legislature, an unusually strong 
President, elected indirectly for a four-) car term and in- 
definitely re-eligible, an unusually strong Senate, elected 
indirectly, one third at a time, to six*)car terms; an un- 
usually strong judiciary, appointed for life by President 
and Senate, a staggered schedule of terms for President 
and Congress, aimed at preventing sudden reversals in 
public policy, a key clause forbidding the stales to pass 
any “law impairing die obligation of contracts", and a se- 
verely limited process of amendment, requiring the ap- 
prove of an extraordinary majority of Congress and the 
states What the Constitution omitted was even more irri- 
tating to progressive opinion a specific bill of rights. 

The Constitution was a triumph for conservatism, but 
not for reaction The Framers knew that they would have 
to present their plan to Congress and tho states, and this in 
itself was enough to make a high-toned scheme like that 
presented by Hamilton seem almost ridiculous Most of 
them were sincerely devoted to the idea of republican 
government, to government that was neither rashly dem- 
ocratic nor hopelessly undemocratic A reckoning should 
bo made of these popular features of the Constitution 
the provisions for representation, tho absence of heredi- 
tary elements, as well as the inclusion of positive prohibi- 
tions against granting titles of nobility, die absence of 
specific property qualifications for federal suffrage and of- 
fice-holding, the almost revolutionary provision for the 
admission of new states on an equal footing with the old, 
the prohibition against religious tests for office-holding, 
and the protections for personal liberty that were sprin- 
kled all through the original articles 

Whether the centralizing features of tho Constitution 
— for example, the supremacy clause in Article VI — were 
boldly conservative or, as many anb-Federahsts claimed, 
ominously radical is a question that is perhaps more semaa- 

uttiicu, ammaiat. 1607-1865 to; 

aaldZm , “!k lb!l! ' 11 1116 W'™' 5 <* *6 Constitution 
“f r j at " ' toU “P«t tin old confederate tal- 
ead in tune to annihilation of the states, its 
°°Z? '«« ** only through a more peioct 
? ^ )eace anc * g°°d order, the guiding stars of 
I* StatesmansIu P- ^ finnly secure If men 
m 6 a , revolution to preserve ancient liberties 
g imperial invasion, certainly the same men could 
° fr “^kbition designed to secure these liberties 
against fratricidal strife 

The authentic conservatism of the framers of the Con* 
fyi?* 1 * read in The Federalist Both Hamilton 

ao iadison, like their colleagues on the floor of the Con* 

V cation, expressed a cautionary view of human nature, 
an this view, which wandered back and forth between 
ak pessimism and conditional optimism, set the tone 
for trie whole Constitution 

Hamilton speaks repeatedly of “the folly and wicked- 
ness of mankind' and “the ordinary depravity of human 
nature ” Perhaps hu most jevealing comment is in Num- 
ber 6, in which he argues against those who assume that 
thirteen independent states can live at peace with one an- 

Have we not already seen enough of the fallacy 
and extravagance of those idle theories which have 
amused us with promises of an exemption from the 
imperfections, weaknesses, and evils incident to so- 
ciety in every shape? Is it not tune to awake from 
the deceitful dream of a golden age, and to adopt 
as a practical maxim for the direction of our political 
conduct that we, as well as the other inhabitants of 
the globe, are jet remote from tho happy empire of 
perfect wisdom and perfect virtue? 

Madison, hardly kss outspoken than H a mil ton, calls 
attention to “the infirmities and depravities of the human 
character" and "the injustice and violence of individuals " 
lie, too, reveals the determination of the Framers to base 
thur new government on men as they are and will prob- 
ably remain, not os wo would like them to be or become. 



In defending the system of divided and balanced power 
he writes: 

It may be a reflection on human nature that such 
devices should be neces<aiy to control the abuses 
of government. But what is government itself but the 
greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men 
were angels, no government would be necessary. If 
angels were to govern men, neither external nor in- 
ternal controls on government would be necessary. 
In framing a government which is to be administered 
by men over men, the great difficulty lies m this you 
must first enable the government to control the gov- 
erned, and in the next place oblige it to control it- 

The Federalist is flatly committed to this central prop- 
osition of the Conservative tradition man can govern 
himself, but there is no certainty that he will, free gov- 
ernment is possible but far from inevitable The new Con- 
stitution, The Federalist acknowledges, is designed for 
men more likely to be moved by “momentary passions 
and immediate interests" than by “considerations of policy, 
utility and justice * Power must be diffused and checked, 
the majority must prove itself persistent and often extraor- 
dinary, men’s rights and property must be protected 
against the whims of arbitrary power, and the wise and 
virtuous must be raised to leadership Only thus can re- 
publican America enjoy that rarest of earthly blessings 
popular government 

The Federalist is conservatism — we may fairly say Con- 
servatism — at its finest and most constructive There is 
no loose talk of elites or a limited suffrage, there is no talk 
at all of men who are or ever can be angels There 
is voiced through all its pages the conditional hope that 
men who are properly educated, encouraged, informed, 
and checked can govern themselves wisely and well in a 
situation of stability and order. The Federalist is neither 
defeatist nor cynical, it is grimly confident of the feasi- 
bility of ordered liberty 

By 1789 the conservatives under Washington, hence- 


forth to be known as Federalists, could look back on two 
notab/e achievements the Revolution, which they had 
JwJptd to win and managed to hold in check, and the 
Constitution, which they had planned for at Annapolis 
hammered out at Philadelphia, and pushed through 
enough state conventions to secure ratification Now 
ey were faced with a third formidable task to satisfy 
e people that this new scheme was designed to serve 
0 interests of all, to win respect for the government at 
home and abroad, to place the Republic on a firm political 
and financial footing, in short, to put the Constitution into 

History records that they scored a striking success, so 
striking indeed that after twelve years another group of 
men, many of whom had originally been opposed to the 
Constitution, could take over the machinery of govern- 
ment with hardly a hitch or break or a call for a new con- 
stitution The Federalists had their full share of failures, 
from both their point of view and ours, but their successes 
outweigh them by far in the balance of history When we 
consider that they, like all men and movements, were 
devoted primarily to their own interests, we must marvel 
at the services they rendered to the whole Republic. 
Here is one band of conservatives who won a full vote of 
thanks, if not in their own tune certainly m the annals of 

A good part of the Federalist achievement may be 
credited to die men who led the Right of those days from 
one tnumph to another Washington, Adams, Hamilton 
John Jay, Gouvemeur Moms, John Marshall, James Will 
son, and the rest were men whose fame rests on a solid 
foundation. Like ail great men, they were wards rather 
than masters of history, yet it may be said of them, as of 
few other American statesmen, that they seized history 
by the nose and gave it several rousing tweaks 

Two of these men deserve our special considerate 
Alexander Hamilton and John Adams were the most a Jj] a 
Federalist thinkers and, after Washington, the most p t0Ja 
inent Federalist statesmen. Most important for our pu " 
poses, the Federalism of Hamilton was at odds ’ 


Federalism of Adams Each represented, in his creed and 
deeds, a different side of the old American Right, and 
many of the differences persist until this day. The contrast 
between their ways of thinking is too often and easily 
overlooked by men who go rummaging in the past for 
evidences of American conservatism 

Both advocates and students of modem American con- 
servatism have their bands full in trying to make peace 
with Hamilton, a fact demonstrated by the conflicting judg- 
ments passed on the quality of his thought and practice. 
Russell Kirk Bods him to have been too much a mix hue 
of backward-looking mercantilist and forward-looking ex- 
ponent of industrialism to be classed with Burke and 
Adams "Eminently a city-man," Hamilton "never pene- 
trated far beneath the surface of politics to the mystenes 
of veneration and presumption" Raymond English, on the 
other hand, considers his "ideas” a "base” for modem Amer- 
ican conservatism as "solid as granite”, Louis Hacker be- 
lieves him to have been a "real conservative”, and John C. 
Livingston salutes him as "that national figure who stands 
out above all others as the architect of a native American 
conservatism ” 

My own opinion is that, while Hamilton was unquestion- 
ably a man of the Right, he cannot be listed, certainly not 
without a half-dozen major qualifications, among the un- 
doubted heioes of American conservatism I call him a man 
of the Right because, in his politics and social attitudes, 
as in his tastes and prejudices, he was at home m the com- 
pany of "the wise and good and nch and because he 
hoped desperately that such men would be called upon 
always to rule republican America While his “only client 
may have been, as Broadus Mitchell asserts, "the whole 
country,” be served the whole country by first of all serving 
the men on or near the top of the heap He had uo par- 
ticular affection for the great mass of farmers and workers, 
and he certainly gave his talents and energies without 
stint to the vain task of keeping their leaders out of the 
seats of political power If it had ever come down to a 
class struggle in America, he would have shed a tear for 
departed social harmony and gone to the barricades as a 


soldier, or rather as a captain, of the higher bourgeoisie. 
If he had been granted the boon of eternal life (which he 
would hardly have considered a boon), he would loot 
back from our time to a string of presidential votes for the 
man of sense and substance over the man not quite to be 
trusted by gentlemen of property — for Clay over Jackson, 
McKinley over Bryan, Hoover over Roosevelt, Eisenhower 
over Stevenson 

A man on the Right, however, is not necessarily a con- 
servative, and if Hamilton was a conservative, he was the 
only one of his kind. He had, to be sure, many of the 
political and philosophical credentials of the conservative. 
He subscribed to a secular version of the doctrine of Orig- 
inal Sin, put a high value on law, order, and obedience, 
assumed the existence of classes and put his trust in the 
class at the top, spoke with feeling of the essential roles 
of religious feeling in man and organized religion In society, 
and had the standard conservative sentiments about pru- 
dence He despised ideologues, condemned the “rage for 
innovation,” and declared himself more willing to “incur 
the negative inconveniences of delay than the positivo 
mischiefs of injudicious expedients " Always on his guard 
against the preachers of an “ideal perfection,” certain that 
he would never see “a perfect work from imperfect man," 
he was prepared to leave much to chance, and thus pre- 
sumably to the workings of prescription, in the social 
process He was never so eloquent as when he declaimed 
on the favonte conservative theme of the mixed character 
of all mans blessings 

Hamilton gave full vent to his conservatism, which m 
this instance went beyond mere opportunistic Rightist, ^ 
his reactions to the excesses of the French Revolution He 
reads exactly like Burke or Adams in his attacks on “The 
Great MONSrER” for its cruelty, impiety, and licentious, 
ness, for its spawning of an anarchy that had ltd straigj^ 
to despotism, for its rage for change and assaults on p rDp . 
erty, for its imposition of “the tyranny of Jacobism, wh^ 
confounds and levels every thing " He was enraged by 
presumptuousness of the Directory in hoi g out to tia 
world a general limitation and encouragement to revo^ 



and insun-cction, under a promise of fraternity and as- 
sistance," and w as ono of the first of a long line of publicists, 
which stretches down to this generation, to insist that a 
clear distinction be drawn bet's ccn the French and Amer- 
ican Revolutions in terms cf inspiration, aspiration, charac- 
ter, and consequence. Himself a victim of the passions un- 
leashed by the French Revolution, he had philosophical 
as well as political reasons for the horror ho felt at the sight 
of liberty run amuck. 

Having said all this, I must again insist that he was not 
a model for the average conservative to contemplate. Hu 
bold plans for economic development, his genuine confi- 
dence in the uses of political power, his indifference to 
the established order in V it gun and points south, hu im- 
patience with traditions and lo> allies that got in his way, 
his willingness to sweep away the states, his easy identifica- 
tion of plutocracy with aristocracy, the bias in his political 
theory toward economics and away from ethics, and above 
all hu vision of the industrial society to come — theso were 
not, surely, the marks of an American oonscrvabv e of the 
1790’s Ha was conservative and radical, traditionalist and 
revolutionary, reactionary and visionary, Tory and Whig 
all thrown into one. He is a glorious source of inspiration 
and instruction to modem conservatives, but so is he to 
modem liberals Let us feavo Hamilton with the observation 
that his immense and deserved reputation today is due in 
no small part to his ability to defy classification Indeed, 
he may well be the most undassifiable man of pronounced 
views in all the histoiy of American thought and politic*. 

John Adams was another breed. Hu roots were in the 
American land, his home was the New England town, his 
Vision of the Republic was much the same as Jefferson’s, 
His whole approach to life was different from that of Ham- 
ilton. Virtue, loyalty, reverence, moderation, self-disci- 
pline, traditionalism — these qualities were made real in 
the person of John Adams He w-as, moreover, a conscious 
political thinker, and bis principles have proved at least as 
relevant to the American experience as those of his early 
and late friend Thomas Jefferson It is no easy thing to 
compress the thoughts of a man hke Adams into a few 


sentences Hi’s political writings are full of subtleties, con- 
tradictions, nuances, paradoxes, and unresolved dilemmas 
Yet through all his thousands of pages there run about a 
dozen constant themes, which fit together harmoniously 
to form a political theory of genuine merit and relevance 
These are the points in Adams’s philosophy that support 
his claim to stand m the first rank of American conserva- 

An austere opinion of the nature of man, which he 
found to be an unchanging blend of virtue and vice, of 
dignity and depravity, of benevolence and selfishness, of 
industry and sloth 

Whoever would found a state, and make proper 
laws for the government of it, must presume that all 
men are had by nature 

A strong faith in conservative education as the chief 
means for aiding man to realize the better parts of his 
mixed nature 

Human nature with all its infirmities and depravi- 
ties is still capable of great things . Education 
makes a greater difference between man and man, 
than nature has made between man and brute The 
virtues and powers to which men may be trained, by 
early education and constant discipline, are truly 
sublime and astonishing 

Identification of the “love of power” and the “passion 
for distinction” as the two supreme urges of die human 
spirit, and a consequent insistence that it is the chief 
quest of political science to harness these urges to virtuous 
and fruitful ends. 

The theory of education, and the science of gov- 
ernment, may be reduced to the same simple prin- 
ciple, and be all comprehended in the knowledge of 
the means of actively conducting, controlling, and 
regulating the emulation and ambition of die citizens 

A realistic appraisal of natural inequalities among men 
By the law of nature, ah men are men, and not 
angels— men, and not hoas— -men, and not whales — • 


men, anil not eagles — that I*. they aro all of the same 
species, and this is the most that the equality of na- 
ture amounts to. But man differs by nature from 
man, almost as much as man from beast. ... A 
physical inequality, an intellectual inequality, of the 
most serious kind, is established unchangeably by 
the Author of nature, and society has a right to estab- 
lish any other in equalities it may judgo necessary for 
its good. 

A belief in the natural aristocracy. 

God Almighty has decreed in the creation of hu- 
man nature an eternal aristocracy among men. The 
world is, always has been, and ever will bo gov- 
erned by it 

Few men will deny that them is a natural aristoc- 
racy of virtues and talents in every nation and in evety 
party, in every city and village 

A distrust of unchecked democracy and thus of rule by 
a simple majority. 

We may appeal to every page of history we have 
hitherto turned over, for proofs irrefragable, that the 
people, when they have been unchecked, have been 
as unjust, tyrannical, brutal, barbarous and cruel as 
any lung or senate possessed of uncontrollable power. 
The majonty has eternally and without one exception 
usurped over the rights of the minority. 

All projects of government, formed upon a supposi- 
tion of continual vigilance, sagacity, and virtue, firm- 
ness of the people, when possessed of the exercise 
of supreme power, are cheats and delusions. 

A similar distrust of unchecked aristocracy, indeed of 
all concentrated and unlimited power 

I never could understand the doctrine of the perfecti- 
bility of the human mind . . The fundamental 
article of my political creed is, that despotism, or un- 
limited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same 


in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocrat) cal 
council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor 
Equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody and in every re v 
spect diabolical 

My opinion is, and always has been, that absolute 
power intoxicates alike despots, monarchy, aristo- 
crats, and democrats, 

A consequent devotion to divided, limited, balanced 
government as the regulator and moderator of the eternal 
struggle of classes and interests- 

Ixjngitude, and the philosopher's stone, have not 
been sought with more earnestness by philosophers 
than a guardian of the laws has been studied by leg- 
islators from Plato to Montesquieu, but eveiy proj- 
ect has been found to be no better than committing 
the Iamb to the custody of the wolf, except that one 
which is called a balance 0 / power. 

A legislative, an executive, and a judicial power 
comprehend the whole of what is meant and under- 
stood by government. It is by balancing each of these 
powers against the other two, that the efforts in hu- 
man nature towards tyranny can alone bo checked 
and restrained, and any degree of freedom preserved 
m the constitution. 

A conservative feeling for the limits of political power. 

1 remember our Massachusetts legislature once 
made a law to compel bachelors to marry upon pain 
of paying double taxes The people were so attached 
to the liberty of propagating their species or not as 
they chose, according to their consciences, that at 
the next election they left out all the advocates for 
the hill and chose men who respected the right of 
celibacy enough to repeal the law. 

Legislatorsl Beware how you make laws to shock 
the prejudices or break the habits of the people In- 
novations even of the most certain and obvious utility 
must be introduced with great caution, prudence, 
and skill. 


An insistence that liberty, a delicate plant even under 
the most favorable conditions, must be cultivated care- 
fully by those who would enjoy its fruits: 

Liberty, according to my metaphysics, is an intel- 
lectual quality, an attnbuto that belongs not to fate 
nor chance ... It implies thought and choice and 
power. « 

A strong opinion of the sanctity of privato property: 

The moment tho idea is admitted into society, that 
property is not as sacred as the laws of Cod. and 
that there is not a force of law and public Justice to 
protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. 

Finally, Adams held an equally strong opinion that prop- 
erty as well as virtue and knowledge— must be widely 
diffused : among the people if society Is to remain free and 
stable. Hamilton s idea of good government, a mutually 
fruitful partnership of political and financial aristocrats, 
was about tho farthest thing from Adams’s Yankee mind. 
He, like Jefferson, found his ideal citizen in the sturdy, 
independent jeoman, hu model polity, like Jefferson’s, 
was a popular, representative government of small prop- 
erty-owners * ‘ 

If »e add to tits tough-minded political theory Adams’s 
Puritan sense of sin, his reverence for history and its 
teachings, his veneration ot 'the little platoons' o[ New 
Englands way of fife, his concern for the preservation 
rather than espansion of liberty, his love of older, his in- 
tense eonstitutionabsm and spotless patriotism, his adnura- 
tion for prudence (even when ha had trouble displaying 
t) , his preference for being ngbt rather than popular, and 
s “P' e "'’f evo ' 1 ” «> P-bVc duty, we must grant him 
° “ , air b "' fi,s ' *”“6 Amencan ern- 
es one f S' ““ bc f“ d <!»> 10 salute him 

as one of the giants of the Conservative tradition Here 

of an AiTif 0 nn 8 a Ve "v“ t b >’ P 1 ”"*”'?. -o dreamer 
.LllctZ? d »d hard-packed eit- 

* h ° '“r 1 A ™ n “ “ « *» -d l» d 

been, me whose life wu a doughty testament to the Inals 


and glories of ordered liberty Here, in John Adams of 
Quincy, was the model of the American conservative 

Three other men should he mentioned before we sum 
up the Federalist record The first of these, as he is the 
first of Americans, is George Washington Since this is 
primarily a study m intellectual history, we have fixed at- 
tention on the best political minds among the conserva- 
tives of the Constitutional and Federal periods But we 
should not for a moment forget the awesome figure of 
Washington In him all the virtues of gentility, integrity, 
and duty met to form the archetype of the conservative 
statesman In his career those great abstractions — service, 
loyalty, patriotism, morality — came nobly to life And from 
him the nation heard, in his Farewell Address, the earnest 
plea of the true conservative for that firm support of or- 
dered liberty the unity that overrides petty dissension and 
selfish faction 

John Marshall of Virginia drew on both Hamilton and 
Adams For the former, whose constitutional writings he 
must have known by heart, he earned on the great work 
of nationalism and centralization with Gibbons v Ogden 
and McCulloch v Maryland, for the latter, who placed 
him at the head of the Supreme Court, he earned on the 
great work of protecting property against headstrong 
democracy with Fletcher v Peck and Dartmouth College 
v Woodward For both, he made the judiciary the darling 
instrument of conservatism when he conjured up judicial 
review in Marbury v. Madison By asserting the power of 
the Court to ignore and thus invalidate laws judged un- 
constitutional, Marshall put the last and most essential 
stone in place m the wall of conservative consbtutional- 

A third Federalist, Fisher Ames of Massachusetts, was 
the most eloquent representative of a hard core of Right- 
ists who showed none of the creative boldness of Hamil- 
ton or tempered realism of Adams, and who thus, as de- 
mocracy advanced and Jefferson came to power, predicted 
total ruin for the Republic Where Adams and Marshall re- 
mained gnmly hopeful that the best of the old ways would 
somehow survive the surge to democracy and equality. 


Arnes saw only the enveloping tyranny of “what is called 
the people.” To a fnend he wrote. "Our country is too big 
for union, too sordid for patriotism, too democratic for lib- 
erty What is to become of it. He who made it best 
knows " And to another, not long before his early death 
in 1807 “Our disease is democracy It rs not the skin that 
festers — our very bones are carious, and their marrow 
blackens with gangrene ” Small wonder that the die-hard 
Federalists, of whom Timothy Dwight, Hamson Gray 
Otis, and Robert Treat Paine, jr, were other outspoken 
members, are remembered chiefly for the absurd lengths 
to which they drove their hatred of democracy and long- 
ing for a world without social progress 

Perhaps these men, many of whom were simple and 
kindly, have been too cruelly treated If so, we can make 
amends by recalling that Federalism produced an astonish- 
ing number of poets (or poetasters) who sang the evils of 
Jacobinism and the beauties of the ancient way® *** 
hear from Thomas Green Fessenden of Brattleboro and 
Boston, leading candidate for the position of poet laureate 
of the old American Right 

Next, every man throughout the nation 
Must be contented with his station. 

Nor think to cut a figure greater 
Than was design'd for htm by Nature 
No tinker bold with brazen plate. 

Should set himself to patch the State , 

No cobbler leave, at Faction’s call, 

Hu last, and thereby lose his all 
The greatest numbers greatest good 
Should, doubtless, ever be pursu’d. 

But that consists, sans Disputation, 

In order and subordination 

The Framers of the Constitution, who distrusted un- 
checked democracy, deserve much credit for the success 
of our democracy. Lacking faith in the people, they none 
the less rested their new Constitution on the broad base 
of popular sovereignty Placing faith ix» government by 


the gentry, they none the Jess raised a structure that could 
be converted without bloodshed into government by the 
people The Framers insisted m 178 7, and their document 
insists today, that law is the price of liberty, duty of hap- 
piness, communal order of individual development, delib- 
eration of wise decision, constitutionalism of democracy 
Their Constitution, conceived m this tough-minded philos- 
ophy, has made it possible for a restless race to have its 
stabihty and its progress, too It has been perhaps the most 
successful conservative device in the history of mankind, 
and the Americans, a singularly conservative people for 
all their restlessness, have adored it with good reason It 
has been their Jang and church, their ark and covenant, 
their splendid sign of freedom and unity, it has been all 
these things because, first of all, it has been their tutor in 
ordered liberty They have much for which to thank the 
prudent Federalists, the best of all possible American con- 

The Federalists passed into oblivion as a party m the elec- 
tion of 1816 Since the opening phase of the Revolution, 
the inherited system of government by gentlemen chosen 
by a restricted electorate had been under severe assault 
from the disfranchised and disinherited Now, in the first 
decades of the new century, the collapse of the organized 
Right heralded the triumph of democracy So rapid was 
the advance of the new nation toward political equably 
that many old Jeffersonians now found themselves in the 
ranks of conservatism side by side with long-time enemies 
from the Federalist camp The dnve of the plain people 
and their able leaders to democratize the limited republic 
of the fathers was aimed at concrete political goals re- 
moval of property restrictions for voting and office-hold- 
ing, popular election of the executive, popular election, 
to short terms, of the judiciary, devices, like the conven- 
tion, for popular control of parties, popular election of 
state constitutional conventions and ratification of their 
results, and the “spoils system " While the federal Consti- 
tution went untouched and grew steadily m repute among 
men of all classes , the constitutions of the new states were 



written and those of the old states revised to meet the de- 
mands of the nsmg democracy The altering of state laws 
and of constitutional provisions governing the suffrage 
did much, of course, to broaden the base of the Constitu- 
tion So, too, did the conversion of the Presidency to a pop- 
ularly elected office 

In three conventions that met to revise state constitu- 
tions — in Massachusetts (1820-1), New York (1821), 
and Virginia (1829-30) — the conservatives made their 
hardest fight to preserve the old ways John Adams, Dan- 
iel Webster, Joseph Story, and Josiah Quincy in Massachu- 
setts, Chancellor James Kent m New York, James Madi- 
son, James Monroe, John Marshall, and John Randolph in 
Virguua — all these worthies, old Federalists and old Jeffer- 
sonians together, threw themselves into the hopeless 
struggle against universal suffrage None of them, except 
perhaps the gloomy Chancellor, was a hidebound Tory 
like Ames They were, for the most part, libertarians 
who took pnde in the "great subdivision of the soil" among 
the American people and were devoted to the cause of a 
yeoman republic But they could not abandon a funda- 
mental teaching of their fathers that men without prop- 
erty lack the independence, interest, judgment, and 
virtue to be participating citizens of a free republic They 
clung tenaciously, like the good conservatives they were, 
to the inherited doctrine of the “stake-in-society," which 
a f fi rms that office-holding and voting should be the con- 
cern of those only who have "a common interest with, and 
an attachment to the community ” Their chief concern, of 
course, was the rapidly growing urban mass, which they 
insisted on identifying with "the mobs of Paris and Lon- 
don * 

The conventions of the i82o’s were the last and most 
outspoken stand of genuine, anh-democrahc conservatism 
— that is to say. Conservatism — as a major force in the life 
of the whole nation The blunt language of the old-fash- 
loned republicans was not to be heard again in public de- 
bate While Kent waded and Randolph, sputtered. Story 
held fast on a Court “gone mad" and Marshall was gath- 
ered stdl unyielding to his fathers, the "practical” men of 


the Right, even such as Daniel Webster, were already 
moving toward a new pohUcal faith There was hub 
place for a hard-bitten, plain spoken Federalist m a land 
where farms, factories, railroads, and states were sprout- 
ing all over the map, and where the new voters, all of 
them real or potential capitalists, were proving themselves 
something other than European canaille. Democracy had 
become, thanks to its breath-taking yet peaceful surge to 
victory, the national religion. Conservatism, except in the 
South, was in demoralized rout. The swift passago of tho 
Right from the old Federalism of 1820, when Story talked 
about the nch helping the poor and the poor administering 
to the nch, to the new Whiggery of 1840. when birth m a 
log cabin was the test of political virtue, is evidence 
enough of the fullness and abruptness of the swoep of de- 
mocracy across the Amcncan mind. 

The death of the Whigs in the 1850‘s cannot be com- 
pared with that of the Federalist party before them The 
latter was a high-pnnciplcd party of the Right that simply 
could not come to terras with the progressive inherent 
in the Amencan environment It was too proudly and in- 
flexibly conservative to outlast even the first explosive as- 
saults of capitalistic democracy The Whig party, however 
had made a highly profitable peace with the new order* 
Like all successful Amcncan parties, it was based frankly 
on the reconciliation of diverse interests, and it could well 
have survived conversion into “the shop and till party" h ac j 
the issue of slavery not cut so deeply In any case, aft er 
1840 the active Right in Amenca could be candidly con- 
servative, and thus Conservative, no longer The first step 
toward political success, certainly in the North and West, 
was outspoken acceptance of the democratic dogma, 
the men of the Right, some of whom found a home in one 
party, some in the other, were henceforth to talk like 
bodied Americans and reap the rewards of an opportune, 
tic conservatism 

The Southern Right, in the meantime, was facing most of 
the problems of She Northern gentry and a few pecuh^j 
its own The corroding issue of Negro slavery forced tfig 



gentry, or rather its political spokesmen and academic 
agents, to re-examine the whole pattern of Southern life. 
The struggle to preserve an agrarian, stratified, slavehold- 
mg society produced several remarkable examples of both 
conservative and reactionary thought 

Southern conservatism found its most able spokesman in 
John C Calhoun There are those who deny that Calhoun 
was a conservative, some insisting that he was committed 
more deeply than he realized to the Jeffersonian dispensa- 
tion, others that he was “the Mane of the master class," 
still others that he was little better than a fabulous reac- 
tionary Actually, these people are saying only that he was 
an heir of the constitutional tradition, or that he was more 
realistic than most Americans about the facts of class war- 
fare, or that he sought to prevent the agrarian South from 
going the way of the industrial North None of these 
charges removes him unequivocally from the conservative 
ranks Calhoun was first of all a man who cherished a way 
of life and strove ably and sincerely to save it from nun. 
These features of his political mind lead me to insist that 
he was a conservative, even a Conservative 

A deeply pessimistic view of the prospects of popular 

We already see, in whatever direction we turn our 
eyes, the growing symptoms of disorder and decay — 
the growth of faction, cupidity, and corruption, and 
the decay of patriotism, integrity, and disinterested- 

A flat assertion of the primacy of the community 

[Man’s] natural state is, the social and political — 
the one for which his Creator made him, and the only 
one m which he can preserve and perfect his race 
Instead of being bom free and equal, [men] 
are bom subject, not only to parental authority, but 
to laws and institutions of the country where bom, 
and under whose protection, they draw their first 



A completely non-Jeffersonian theory of liberty 

It is a great and dangerous error to suppose that 
all people are equally entitled to liberty It is a re- 
ward to be earned, not a blessing to be gratuitously 
lavished on all alike, — a reward reserved for the in- 
telligent, the patriotic, the virtuous and deserving, — 
and not a boon to be bestowed on a people too igno- 
rant, degraded and vicious, to be capable either of 
appreciating or of enjoying it 

A belief in the blessings of inequality among men and 
consequent hostility to all schemes for social leveling 

Now, as individuals differ greatly from each other, 
m intelligence, sagacity, energy, perseverance, skill, 
habits of industry and economy, physical power, po- 
sition and opportunity, — the necessary effect of 
leaving all free to exert themselves to better their 
condition, must be a corresponding inequality be- 
tween those who may possess these qualities and ad- 
vantages in a high degree, and those who may be de- 
ficient in them It is, indeed, this inequality of 
condition between the front and the rear ranks, in the 
inarch of progress which gives so strong an impulse 
to the former to maintain their position, and to the 
latter to press forward into then files This gives to 
progress its greatest impulse To force the front rank 
back to the rear, or attempt to push forward the rear 
into line with the front, by the interposition of the 
government, would put an end to the impulse, and 
effectually arrest the march of progress 

A belief, based on his own understanding of the South- 
ern way of life, m the organic, cellular structure of the 
good society 

The Southern States are an aggregate, in fact, of 
communities, not of individuals Every plantation is 
a little community, with the master at its head, who 
concentrates in himself the united interests of capital 
and labor, of which he is the common representative 


. Hence the harmony, the union, the stability of 
that section 

A distrust of unchecked political power, which corrupts 
the man who uses it and degrades the man upon whom it 
is used 

If there be a political proposition universally true, 
one which springs directly from the nature of man, 
and is independent of circumstances, — it is, that irre- 
sponsible power is inconsistent with liberty, and must 
corrupt those who exercise it On this great principle 
our political system rests 

A fear, therefore, of simple majority rule. 

The truth is, — the Government of the uncontrolled 
numencal majority, is but the absolute and despotic 
form of popular governments, just as that of the un- 
controlled will of one man, or a few, is of monarchy, 
or aristocracy, and it has, to say the least, it has as 
strong a tendency to oppression, and the abuse of its 
powers, as either of the others 

As consequence of all that has gone before, an intense 
faith in constitutional limitations, expressed chiefly in the 
famous concept of the “concurrent majority” 

There are two different modes in which the sense 
of the community may be taken one, simply, by the 
nght of suffrage, unaided, the other, by the right 
through a proper organism Each collects the sense 
of the majority But one regards numbers only, and 
considers the whole community as a unit, having but 
one common interest throughout . The other re- 
gards interests as well as numbers, — considering the 
community as made up of different and conflicting 
interests The former of these I shall call the 
numencal, or absolute majority, and the latter, the 
concurrent, or constitutional rna jonty . . . 

The necessary consequence of taking the sense of 
the community by the concurrent majonty is . 
to give to each interest or portion of the community 


a negative on the others It u this mutual negative 
among its various conflicting interests, which invests 
each with the power of protecting itself, — and places 
the rights and safety of each, where only they c an be 
securely placed, under its own guardianship It 
is this negative, — -the power of preventing or arresting 
the action of the government, — be it called by what 
term it may, — veto, interposition, nullification, check, 
or balance of power, — which, in fact, forms the con- 

This is strong and difficult stuff As to its difficulty, it 
should be as plain to those who are meeting Calhoun for 
the first time as to those who know him well that the doc- 
trine of the concurrent majority alone raises two questions 
for every one it answers Fortunately, it would serve us no 
purpose to raise and ponder these questions, concerning 
which there is an able and growing literature Let us fir 
on this one point the concurrent majonty, considered as 
a general standard for testing majonty rule rather than as 
a specific technique for checking it absolutely, is still, by 
whatever name we give it, a prime weapon in the conserv- 
ative arsenal The conservative’s concept of unity is of 
unity that arises out of meaningful diversity, and Calhoun 
faced squarely, as few Americans have, the problem of pro- 
tecting the many small interests against the relentless pres- 
sure of the general interest That his own interest was es- 
pecially repugnant to the democratic tradition should not 
blind us to the broader significance of his intellectual 
achievement The doctrine of the concurrent majonty, the 
belief that each nunonty must have the power to defend 
itself against public policy determined by mere weight of 
numbers, lives on in a dozen essentially conservative tech- 
niques and arrangements in our political and social sys- 

As to the strength — that is to say, the unpala lability — 
of Calhoun’s basic teachings, it need only be pointed out 
that for most men he was as hard to swallow in his tame as 
in ours Even in the South his principles were ignored or 
rejected by a people already too deeply committed to the 
Jeffersonian tradition While many men On die Southern 


Right, and on the Northern, too, have acted in the image 
of Calhoun's harsh conservatism, few have permitted them- 
selves to think this way, to assume flatly, for example, that 
"there has never yet existed a wealthy and civilized soci- 
ety in which one portion of the community did not, in 
point of fact, live on the labor of the other" In Calhoun's 
stem, moral, duty-conscious person, as m his astonishing 
blend of organic and constitutional doctrines, the tenets 
of Conservatism were pushed about as far as they could go 
without spilling over into malign authoritarianism 

George Fitzhugh of Virginia, a powerful and prolific 
writer in the Southern cause, had much less trouble shak- 
ing off the chains of the constitutional tradition As a result, 
hi* political and social theory — expressed m those two 
amazing books, Sociology for the South (1854) and Can- 
nibals AU] (1857), as well as in a mass of articles in South- 
ern journals — was a high point of reaction m American in- 
tellectual history These writings proclaim without hesita- 
tion the irrationality of human nature, the inequality of 
men, the primacy of the community, the blessings of 
a closed society and paternalistic government, the sanctity 
of tradition, and the joys of stability There is little or no 
compromise with individualism, liberalism, rationalism, or 
constitutionalism In rediscovering Aristotle and even Fil- 
mer, m writing as if Locke and Jefferson had never lived, 
m regretting America's unsuitability for a monarchy and 
established church, in calling upon the South “to roll back 
the Reformation in its political phases," he made himself 
the champion of a closed, hierarchical, almost feudal soci- 
ety that could have made little real sense to the great mass 
of Southerners Yet even today his arguments are not with- 
out interest or significance, for he was neither a stereo- 
typed Southern fire-eater nor an anb-intellectual standpat- 
ter He refused to be trapped in the mire of states’-rights 
constitutionalism, he proposed that the South find true 
independence by moving toward a more balanced and di- 
versified economy Although Fitzhugh may have preached 
a feudalism that satisfied the most devoted readers of Sir 
Walter Scott, he was also a master of the real world of pol- 
itics and sociology. 


Tbs completes our survey of the American Right before 
the Civil War In pursuing a policy of concentrating on 
political movements and on only two or three men in each 
of these, we have slighted some rather remarkable and 
edifying men, each of whom would get a chapter, or at 
least a couple of pages, in a definitive, multi-volumed his- 
tory of American conservatism 

Timothy Dwight of Connecticut, who should have been 
bomjn 1652 rather than 1752, 

John Quincy Adams, in whose stout heart and mind the 
progressivism of Jefferson and conservatism of father John 
waged a prolonged tug-of-war, 

John Randolph of Roanoke, who proudly proclaimed. "I 
am an aristocrat I love liberty, I hate equality,” and who 
pointed out with mad eloquence the road of no return 
down which Jefferson’s progressivism was leading old Vir- 

Nathaniel Hawthorne, who reminded Americans of the 
reality of sin and the strength of their Puritan heritage, 

Orest* s Brownson and Isaac Hecker, who wandered 
from one faith to another and finally found in Catholicism 
the moral and religious underpinning for triumphant de- 

Joseph Story, who grounded his conservative constitu- 
tionalism on reverence for the historical process, 

Daniel Webster, who grounded his own conservatism, 
into winch Liberalism had made inroads, on a mystic con- 
cept of the federal Union, 

Alexis de Tocqueville, a visitor, yet an American by the 
power of his prophecies, who sought to teach the first de- 
mocracy how to reconcile old and stabilizing values with a 
new and liberating faith, 

James Femmore Cooper, who argued eloquently that 
the survival of the gentleman — the man “elevated above 
the mass of society by his birth, manners, attainments, 
character, and social condition ’-—was the key to success- 
ful democracy, 

tlie German-Amencan Francis Lieber, whose Ctvil Lib- 
erty and Self-Cocemment (1853) was an academic hymn 
f<7 ordered hbert}’. 



Tayler Lewis, the great classicist of Union College, who 
insisted that a “true” Amen can conservatism would have 
to nse above an obsession with security for pnvate prop- 

James Marsh of the University of Vermont, who drew 
heavily on Colendge to bolster his conservative transcen- 

Rufus Choate of Massachusetts, the archetype of the 
conservative Whig, 

and, finally, a dozen or more Southern writers — Na- 
thaniel Beverley Tucker, Hemy Hughes, Thomas Rodenck 
Dew, Albert Bledsoe, George Sawyer, Edmund Ruffin, 
Governor J H Hammond, William A Smith, George Fred- 
enck Holmes, William J Grayson, William Harper, Wil- 
liam Gilmore Simms — who rose to the defense of their 
agrarian, slaveholding society and unleashed a barrage of 
novels, poems, sermons, and tracts damning the individ- 
ualistic North and praising the communal South 

All these are men who deserve to be better known and 
understood by modem Americans If they were too re- 
moved from one another in time and space and immediate 
purpose to form, even in retrospect, an identifiable 
school of American thought, sbll they are more than 
just a string of names to be recited by modem philosoph- 
ical conservatives seeking identity with the past They are 
the men who, whatever their aspirations and principles, 
stood up with at least some bravery to the sweep of the 
Jeffersonian dispensation across the landscape of intellec- 
tual America They are a reminder that the establishment 
° , 6 *y rann y °f Liberalism” did not go completely un- 
challenged in the generations before the Civil War 

Yet this concentration on the prudent Federalists, and 
to a lesser extent on the line that ran, not entirely capri- 
ciously, from Winthrop to Calhoun, should have served 
the purposes for which we undertook thu survey of the 
ear y Right to give an honest if summary impression of 
the principles, triumphs, and contributions of our first con- 
servatives, and to make it possible to call upon these men 
for instruction and example in later stages of this book. 

A final point, perhaps the most important in the chap- 


ter these early conservatives, even those who were con- 
scious Conservatives, were authentic, indigenous Ameri- 
cans, and their conservatism was therefore shaped to the 
American environment For all his talk about aristocracy 
and inequality, John Adams was John Adams and not Ed- 
mund Burke The town meetings, schools, farms, and 
churches of New England — not the monarchy, peerage, 
estates, and Church of old England — were the institutional 
base on which he built his Conservative theory Indeed, 
wherever we look among the men of the early Right, we 
see that they were Americans grappling with American 
problems in the American arena I think it essential to re- 
member this fact whenever and however we deal with 
American conservatism Almost from the beginning it has 
accepted — often under duress, to be sure— principles 
that would have appalled the European Right The phil- 
osophical similarities between men ike Burke and Adams 
or de Maistre and Fitzhugh cannot be ignored, but we 
would deceive ourselves badly — and unlearn the first les- 
son of conservatism — if we were to insist on an identity of 
faith and purpose Though we will return to this point 
again, let us state it now lest there be any doubt about its 
validity and importance American conservatism must be 
judged by American standards, the standards of a country 
that has been big, diverse, rich, new, successful, and non- 
feudal, a country in which Liberalism has been the com- 
mon faith and middle-class democracy the common prac- 



O R 

The Great Train Robbery 
of American Intellectual History 

The Civil War was the great divide of American con- 
servatism The victory of the Northern armies assured the 
victory of Northern sentiment on two issues, slavery and 
the nature of the Union, that had fed the fires of political 
thought from the beginning of the Republic Henceforth 
most thinking Americans would fix then attention on an- 
other great issue The war as conceived and fought by the 
Union also sealed the triumph of the Constitution as s>m- 
bol of national unity and of democracy as secular religion 
Henceforth they would debate this issue in one political 

The major point of debate, on which all other contro- 
versies turned, was the nght and capacity of government 
to regulate business enterprise in the general interest of 
the community and in the specific interest of its less fortu- 
nate members. While the Left fought for social reform in 
state and na tio n with words like “democracy/* “liberty,** 
equality, “progress,” “opportunity” and "individual- 


ism ,“ the Right struck back from its privileged position 
with the very same words The struggle of Right and Left 
was hard, often fierce, and occasionally bloody, yet it was 
a scramble for the scats of power rather than a war-to-the- 
death between two hopelessly antagonistic worlds Few 
men on either great team were committed to drastic 
changes in the rules of the game, few moved outside the 
Liberal tradition m their search for a persuasive rhetoric. 

The root cause of this struggle over the future of Amer- 
ica was the rise of industrial capitalism Change — rapid, 
massive, and unsettling — was now the dominant character- 
istic of the American scene Leaders of the Right sened 
as the chief agents of change, confident that their mines 
and mills could bring them power and riches without dis- 
rupting the established order Leaders of the Left served 
as the chief advocates of reform, convinced that positive 
action by federal and state governments was needed to 
shore up democracy against the rising fade of material 
inequality and treacherous currents of panic and depres- 

The desire of business to expand without interference 
Was challenged repeatedly Grangers, Populists, Bryan and 
Wilson Democrats, Roosevelt and La Follette Progres- 
sives, Liberal Republicans, Grcenbackers, Single Taxers, 
Knights of Labor, and Socialists were the most notable 
major and minor groups to attack “the Lords of Creation." 
Although this fact of challenge to the rule of the “wise 
and good and neb" places them irrevocably on the Left 
in Amencan political histoiy, we would do well not to con- 
fuse most of them with the forces of dissent in Europe 
Many men in these groups were as fundamentally conserv- 
ative as their more privileged opponents They had no 
blueprints for the wholesale remaking of American society, 
they were committed to no mote re/orm-by-collectivism 
than seemed necessary to smash the most arrogant mo- 
nopolies, smooth out the worst inequalities, restore genuine 
competition, and cushion the farmer and worker against 
the shocks of industrialization and urbanization The 
model for their America was the America that had been 

The Right of these free-wheeling decades was perhaps 



more of a genuine Right, for it was led by the rich and 
well placed, was skeptical of popular government, was op 
posed to all parties, unions, leagues, or other movements 
that sought to invade its positions of power and profit, 
and was politically, socially, culturally, and, in the most 
obvious sense, economically anti-radical The men who 
hated Bryan, however, lived in a different age from the 
men who had hated Jefferson Since they were committed 
to change m a vital area of American life, they were forced 
to argue that change was progress, and progress a blessing 
Since the one real threat to their position was the demand 
of the new progressivum for government intervention, 
they were forced to argue for individual liberty and 
against communal activity And since, most important, 
they were leading atmens of a country m which political 
democracy was now an established fact and holy faith, 
they were forced to talk, and even to think, m the vocabu- 
lary of Liberalism 

Progress, individualism, democracy — the Right could 
never have embraced these alien beliefs with convincing 
enthusiasm except for one decisive fact the intellectual 
climate of the age was thoroughly materialistic. More and 
more Americans were coming to measure all things with 
the yardstick of economic fulfillment Thu made it pos- 
sible for the Right to argue that Liberal democracy and 
laissez-faire capitalism were really one and the same thing, 
which in turn made it possible for the busmess community 
to defend itself agamst the heirs of Jefferson with Jeffer- 
son’s own wordj, to celebrate the struggle against social 
reform as a last-ditch stand for human liberty. The Right 
brought off this feat, this Creat Train Robbery of our 
intellectual history, quite sincerely and unconsciously, no 
we can accuse the agents and philosophers of economic 
individua l i sm of perpetrating a deliberate fraud. One can 
wly wonder at the adroitness with which these most op 
port u nlstic of all conservatives seized upon Liberalism for 
their own purposes and managed to convince a good part 
of the nation that their narrow interpretation of its mean- 
ing was imawailably correct. 

In pro claim i n g a political faith framed largely in Jeffer- 


soman phraseology, the American Right ceased to be con- 
sciously conservative The old Conservative tradition sank 
even deeper into lonely disrepute, while a new kind of 
anb-radicahsm moved in to takt> its place and provide the 
Right with comfort and inspiration Laissez-faire conserv- 
atism, the label we shall apply to this new philosophy, 
rose to prominence between 1865 and 1885, to ascendancy 
between 1885 and 1920, to domination — to virtual iden- 
tification with "the American Way” — in the ig2o's I rec- 
ognize that this label is something of a contradiction in 
terms, but that is exactly why I have chosen to use it a 
paradoxical political theory deserves a paiadoxical title 

It is not easy to state the principles of laissez-faire con- 
servatism The prophets of the rising faith seemed often to 
preach m a babble of tongues Pew of them claimed to be 
political or social theorists, practically none could take the 
long or deep view of man and his place in the community 
Even William Graham Sumner of Yale,- the most brilliant 
and consistent of this group and a scholar of the first mag- 
nitude, was quite unspeculabve in his pohbcal thinking 
The laissez-faire conservabves attacked each problem as it 
arose and laid about them for whatever weapons seemed 
most handy at the moment In the chorus that poured 
from their full throats we seem to hear the voices of 
Adams, Ames, Hamilton, and Calhoun, of Emerson, Jeffer- 
son, Thoreau, and Whitman, of Darwin, Spencer, Adam 
Smith, and Malthus, of St Paul, Calvin, and Nietzsche, 
even, if one cocks an alert ear, of Kail Marx Elibsm vies 
with democracy, pessimism with optimism, preservabon 
with progress, authoritarianism with individualism, char- 
ity with insensibvity, liberalism with conservabsm There 
was a monstrous gap between ideals and realibes, and 
many of the ideals were at total war with one another. 

Despite this apparent confusion, the American Right 
seems to have been guided between the Civil War and 
the Great Depression by a set of common principles Out 
of the writings, speeches, and judicial opinions of hun- 
dreds of stalwart Righbsts we may chsbll a working pohb- 
cal faith, one that is less ehbst and more democratic than 
their marbculate assumpbons, less democrabe and more 


elitist than their platform oratoiy In presenting this faith, 
I draw heavily on their own words One must taste for 
oneself the full, heady, imperious flavor of laissez-faire con- 
servatism, especially the brand purveyed in the vintage 
years at the turn of the century 

The spokesmen of laissez-faire conservatism wasted few 
thoughts on man They ignored almost completely his na- 
ture and needs as social, religious, or political animal The 
only man who seems to have counted in their thinking was 
homo economicus 

Their opinion of this man was a confusing blend of 
harshness and hopefulness The key trait of his immutable 
nature was a deep current of selfishness that rose to the 
surface most frequently in the form of intense acquisi- 
tiveness Man’s most important earthly need — and right 
and duty — was to satisfy his acquisitive instincts The 
free, happy, useful man “got things done” and received a 
suitable reward for the doing The free, happy, progres- 
sive society permitted this man to work to the limit of his 
energies, nse to the level of his talents, and profit to the 
extent of his desires The free, happy, effective govern- 
ment recognized the true nature of man and society and 
inteifered as little as possible with the quest for success 

This selfish individual, who would neither sow nor reap 
unless prodded by material discomfort and beckoned by 
material gam, was in the world by and for himself No one 
owed him a living, he owed no one support If he was 
rich, powerful, and happy, he could thank his own tal- 
ents, if he was poor, frustrated, and miserable, he could 
blame his own faults He must, jn any case, take the conse- 
quences of his behavior. The drunkard belonged in the 
ditch, the lazy man in the poorhouse, the dullard in the 
shack, the hard-working man in the cottage, the hard- 
working and talented man in the mansion Self-reliance 
was the command of God and nature Not every man could 
become a millionaire through Sumner’s formula of “labor, 
toil, self-denial, and study,” but he could, if he would, 
achieve a decent competence and solid reputation 

Sensing the dangers that lurked in their doctrine of the 


acquisitive man, the laissez-faire conservabves, preachers 
all, drew on the Puritan ethic for other moral excellencies, 
justice, temperance, courage, piety, patience, benevo- 
lence, and honesty Despite contrary evidence strewn all 
about them, they argued vigorously that these, too, were 
essenbal ingredients of success and freedom "In the long 
run,” Bishop Lawrence warned, “it is only to the man of 
morality that wealth comes ” Yet even the Bishop seemed 
to put industry and frugality in first place m his catalogue 
of private virtues 

Laissez-faire conservabves seized joyfully on the bright 
principle of equality, but their mterpretabon of it was so 
twisted that they may certainly be classed as anb-equah- 
tanans Here, at least, their assumphons and even their 
public statements remained basically conservabve The 
only real equality, so it appears in their writings, was 
equality of economic liberty, acclaimed by Jusbce Stephen 
J Field in his memorable dissent in the Slaughterhouse 
Cases ( 1872) as ' the equality of right among citizens in 
the pursuit of the ordinaiy avocabons of life ” Men were 
equal in the right to acquire and hold property, m the 
right to be free of government interference in their busi- 
ness, and, most important, in the lack of any nght to the 
assistance of government in pursuing their acquisitive 
ends "All grants of exclusive privileges’’ — whether to tne 
highest-placed industrialist or the lowest-placed laborer— 
were "against common right, and void ” In addition, most 
preachers of the new gospel acknowledged in passing that 
men were equal before the law and at the polls But the 
significant equality was equality of opportunity — 'equality 
m self-reliance * 

None of these men ever asserted the fact of a rough 
equality m talents and virtues or the desirability of equal- 
ity in status and property. Quite the contrary, many of 
them echoed Adams in insisting on the harsh reality of nat- 
ural inequalities among men, and Calhoun in asserting 
that the competition resulting from these inequalities was 
the great spur to progress Many went further and adopted 
a deterministic view of the social order “God has intended 
the great to be great and the httle to be little,” cned 


Henry Ward Beecher Attempts to bring the little up to 
the great or the great down to the little would reduce lib- 
erty, halt progress, and eventually destroy society 

Liberty, not equality, was the chief concern of the lais- 
sez-faire conservative In The Conflict between Liberty 
and Equality (1925), President Hadley of Yale argued 
that equality was the ideal of backward races and liberty 
the ideal of progressive peoples — a point already put for- 
ward strongly by President Butler of Columbia in Tru? and 
False Democracy (1907). Indeed, said this eloquent apol- 
ogist for the new conservatism, “Justice demands in- 
equality as a condition of liberty and as a means of reward- 
ing each according to his merits and desserts ” The upshot 
ol all this play with old words and new meanings was a 
social theory that made clever use of both Jefferson 
and Adams A society in which equality of opportunity 
was “the distinguishing privilege of all citizens was 
a society in which the inequalities of nature would be al- 
lowed to run their full course 

The twin doctrines of equably of opportunity and in- 
equality of ability led the laissez-faire conservative inex- 
orably to a belief in natural aristocracy, which, however, 
he rarely peddled under so honest a label. Underlying this 
belief was a characteristically American concept of class 
classes were a fact of life, and hard-headed men would 
shape their thinking to the existence of a social order Yet 
the order was made up of classes, not castes, the way up 
and the way down were open to all 

The men at the top of this order formed the most nat- 
ural and socially valuable of all aristocracies the aristoc- 
racy of personal achievement The best of such men, the 
"captains of industry," were those who had risen from the 
bottom, from "that sternest but most efficient of all schools 
— poverty" Civilization, Elbert Hubbard pointed out in 
his Message to Garcia, was “one long anxious search for 
just such individuals” as that natural aristocrat, “the fellow 
by the name of Rowan,” and civilized men should be 
grateful for their existence Sumner agreed 

The millionaires are a product of natural selection, 
acting on the whole body of men to pick out those 

13 ? 


who can meet the requirements of certain work to be 
done They get high wages and live in lux- 
ury, but the bargain is a good one for society 

The capstone of this theory of aristocracy was the so- 
called "Gospel of Wealth ” The natural aristocrat, elevated 
above his fellow men by his superior energy and ability, 
had not only the right but the duty to lead them wisely 
and well He was bound, in addition, to live an exemplary 
private life as a model for the young men who would suc- 
ceed him and old men who would not Finally, if he was 
one of the chosen few who had been favored with exces- 
sive wealth, he was to use this wealth wisely, he was 
obliged to act as "the steward of great riches” No one 
preached the Gospel of Wealth more fervtntly than An- 
drew Carnegie, who considered "the man of wealth . . 
the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bring- 
ing to their service his supenor wisdom, experience, and 
ability to administer, doing for them better than they 
would or could do for themselves ” Or as John D Rocke- 
feller said to a gathering that had been made happier and 
wiser by his bounty, “The good Lord gave me the 
money, and how could I withhold it from the University 
of Chicago?" 

In the writings of Carnegie, Hubbard, Darnel S Greg- 
ory, Russell Conwell, and others, we discover an aristo- 
cratic ideal as full-bodied and functional as any that has 
served the ruling classes of England and Europe. It may 
be argued that many industrialists and financiers, bearing 
names Idee Gould and Drew, lacked all sense of duty to 
the public and their employees, yet the reality of aristoc- 
racy has never, in any country, come close to the ideal It 
may be pointed out that this new American doctrine, un- 
like most theories of aristocracy, failed to call specifically 
for public service, yet service to the public m a laisstz- 
faire civilization meant exploiting natural resources, build- 
ing railroads and factories, and making jobs for willing 
men Leaders like Carnegie and Rockefeller could not be 
expected to waste their time and talents on the relatively 
unimportant business of governing men “What would be- 



come of tins nation ” Conwell asked, “if our great men 
should take office?" And he himself gave the only possible 
answer “The great men cannot afford to take political 
office, and you and I cannot afford to put them there 
Since America had no established aristocracy to challenge 
the pretensions of the industrial elite, the “captains of in- 
dustry" could hardly be blamed for thinking themselves 
an authentic aristocracy. The laissez-faire conservative 
theories of class and elite were a natural product of post- 
Civil War America. 

The rights of man were another area of political specu- 
lation in which laissez-faire conservatives thought only 
those thoughts that served their immediate purposes One 
may search their writings in vain for evidence of genuine 
concern for the freedoms of religion and expression or for 
the great judicial safeguards Like all Americans, they 
loved “liberty, charming liberty,” but it was liberty de- 
fined largely in economic terms 

A few tough-minded men like Sumner scoffed at the no- 
tion of natural rights, insisting that liberty was something 
that had been earned in struggle and recognized in law 
Most leaders of this school, however, declaimed in ornate 
language about "the holy rights of free men ” Two nghts 
in particular claimed then devotion The first, the nght of 
property, was elevated to a position of unchallenged pri- 
macy It was the essence of liberty, the definition of nght, 
in Sumner’s words, “the condition of civilization ” While 
the nght to property was being raised over all other 
nghts, the concept of property w'as expanded far beyond 
the ownership of personal possessions The United States 
Steel Corporation was “pnvate property," and government 
had no more authonty to interfere m its operation than to 
take away half the acreage of every farmer in the country 
As to the income tax, that was mere “theft." 

The second nght to which laissez-faire conservatives de- 
voted special attention was freedom of contract, the nght 
of a man freely — without support or interference from gov- 
ernment — to buy and sell property or labor Said Justice 
Mahloa Pitney in Coppage v Kansas (1913) 


Included la the right of personal liberty and the 
right of private property-— partaking of the nature of 
each — u the ngbt to make contracts for acquisition 
of property Chief among such contracts is that of 
personal employment, by which labor and other serv- 
ices are exchanged for money or other forms of prop- 
erty The right is as essential to labor as to the 
capitalist, to the poor as to the nch, for the vast xna- 
]onty of persons have no other honest way to begin 
to acquire property, save by working for money 

The interference with freedom of contract at issue in 
this case was a state law prohibiting the infamous prac- 
tice of "yellow-dog contracts” In Adkins v Children’s 
Hospital (1923) it was a minimum-wage law for women 
in die District of Columbia, in Lochner v New York 
(1905) a law limiting work in bakeries to ten hours a day 
or sixty hours a week In all three cases the Court dis- 
covered an ‘'arbitrary” and unconstitutional interference 
with freedom of contract, thus converting this freedom 
into a wonderful weapon for beating back attempts of gov- 
ernment to come to the relief of working men and women 
Sure that the welfare of society depended upon free com- 
petition among “equal” individuals, the Court defended 
the precious rights of laborers to get work by promising 
not to join unions, of scrubwomen and elevator operators 
to make the best bargain they could with employers, and 
of underpaid bakers to work just as long as they wanted. 

The lausez-faire justices must not be written off as bla- 
tant hypocrites They were bitterly anti-labor, no doubt of 
that, yet they were so hypnotized by the dogma of indi- 
vidualism and the fiction of equality of bargaining power 
that combinations of workers and protective laws appeared 
to them as duett threats to liberty and progress. 

In their thinking about the nature and purpose of govern- 
ment, laissez-faire conservatives abandoned the principles 
of Federalism and adopted those of JeSexsonlan democ- 
racy The progressive agrarians of 1S00 had had reason to 
fear government. In theu experience it had been an op- 



pressive tool of the rich, a means for perpetuating privi- 
lege and legalizing inequality As a result, their leading 
thinkers expressed suspicion of political power in the 
most general language The conservative industrialists of 
1880 had reason to fear it, too They had learned, also 
by experience, that government based on a broad suffrage 
could be a tool of the masses as well as of the classes 
Faced by the new progressivism of the new agrarians, 
they seized upon the noble phrases in which the general- 
ized suspicion of government had first been expressed and 
went forth to battle against regulation of rates and sched- 
ules, income taxes, anti-trust legislation, and all other at- 
tempts to “legislate equably ” 

Laissez-faire conservatives looked on government as 
something inherently inefficient, because anything it 
could do the private enterprise of acquisitive men could 
do “twice as cheap and ten times as fast”, inadequate, be- 
cause there were severe natural limitations to collective as 
opposed to individual action , unintelligent, because it in- 
evitably attracted men unwilling or unable to make good 
in the real business of life, arbitrary, because politi- 
cal power had a peculiarly corrupting effect, and undem- 
ocratic, because it seemed alwa>s bent on interfering with 
liberty, property, and equality of opportunity The idea 
that government could do anyone much good was consid- 
ered ridiculous and heretical. The idea that it could do a 
great deal of harm was considered the beginning of politi- 
cal wisdom 

If government was inefficient and inadequate by nature, 
it must, of course, be severely limited in purpose. “Peace, 
order, and the guarantees of rights” were its true con- 
cerns, Sumner wrote, and at another time 

At bottom there are two chief things with which 
government has to deaL They are, the property of 
men and the honor of women These it has to defend 
against crime 

The purpose of government was always stated in purely 
individualistic terms “Government,” said Mark Hopkins, 
“has no nght to be, except as it is necessary to secure the 


ends of the individual in his social capacity * Government 
sfi cured the ends of the individual by protecting his prop- 
erty and standing out of the way of his urge to get more It 
was not expected to assist him m any positive way Sum- 
ner turned his scorn on any and all proposals "whose aim 
*? s ^ ve individuals from any of the difficulties or hard- 
ships of the struggle for existence and the competition of 

It is not at all the function of the State to make men 
happy They must make themselves happy in their 
own way, and at their own nsk 

Few laisse7-faire conservatives were as consistent as 
Sumner, who blasted away at protective tariffs and mun- 
mum-wage laws with magnificent impartiality Some ar- 
gued, often smcerely, that tariffs, land grants, subsidies, 
bounties, favorable patent laws, hard-currency laws, and 
Other aids to business enterprise were aids to the whole 
community or simply “the rules of the game,’ 4 not special 
privileges or hnkenngs with the natural laws of a free 
economy Others were sufficiently shocked by the growth 
of monopoly, inequality, and gross dishonesty to recom- 
mend that government take action to restore competition 
or to protect workers and consumers Most spokesmen for 
the business community, however, continued to hammer 
away at government as the one genuine threat to human 
liberty In their mistrust of authority, contempt for "poli- 
ticians," glorification of the individual, and adherence to 
the concept of "the policeman state," they came very near 
to a theory of philosophical anarchy. What Francis Pas- 
chal has said of Sutherland's opinion m the Adkins case — 
that it was “basically . . an attack on the very idea of 

government" — might be said, without too much hyper- 
bole, of the whole attitude of the laissez-faire conserva- 
tives This attitude came naturally to men who assumed, if 
we may behev e their writings, that the essence of human 
endeavor was "getting and spending." Government was 
not merely dangerous, m the good society it was irrele- 

Laissez-faire conservatives developed a constitutional 



theory admirably suited to their political purposes Its sub- 
stance ^ was an extreme constitutionalism that blended 
Adams’s faith in diffusion and balance, Jefferson’s insistence 
on strict construction, Madison’s devotion to the separation 
o powers, and Marshall’s ideal of a stubborn judiciary 
standing guard over property Majority rule was the ob- 
ject of most concern to laissez-faire constitutionalism, for a 
popu majority in the seats of power threatened the pasi- 
on $. p s, and properties of the business community A 
constitutional theory that set unbreachable limits to the 
power of democratic decision was therefore a clear neces- 

J ^ ,m P or * an t part of this theory was an intense cult of 
e , tubon Seizing upon a long-range development 
. m e r ican tradibon, the laissez-faire conservabves 

nsformed the Conshtubon into a second Holy Writ The 
™ S ‘converted posthumously to rugged indmd- 
uslsm, and Ihe.r handiwork was planed side by side wall 
S" V". Comma ndmenls President Cleveland spoke [or 
whole natron, but especially [or those who were com- 

cIr.eS T^ddpX?' “• *' «“ 

n.,f r We , 1 °° k dovVn P ast centur y to the origm of 
Z* how devoutI y we would con- 

Ind r Ft f Um “ God g° vems ” the affairs of men” 
and how solemn should be the reflecbon that to our 
hands : a : commuted this ark of the people’s covenant, 

h Z'L° mS “ * e dul y t0 shleId ‘t from impious 
bands W® receive it sealed with the tests of a cen- 
hny It has been found sufficient in the past, and in 
all future years it w,U be suffic.ent if the American 
people are true to their sacred bust 

baf w^i R Estabroo V 411 ornament of the New York 
oar, went one-up on Cleveland 

vJPVf, great a , nd sa cred Consbtubon, serene and m- 
violable sbetches its beneficent powers over our land 
—over !U lakes and nvers and forests, over every 
ers son of us, like the outsbetched arm of God 


himself O Marvellous Constitution! Magic 

Parchment! Transforming word! Maher, Monitor, 
Guardian of Mankind! Thou hast gathered to thy im- 
partial bosom the peoples of the earth, Columbia, and 
called them equaL I would fight for every line 
in the Constitution as I would fight for every star m 
the flag 

And E J Phelps, an early president of the American Bar 
Association, made clear that the Constitution, like a 
woman’s honor, was not to be "hawked about the country, 
debated in the newspapers, discussed from the stump, 
elucidated by pot-house politicians and dung-hill editors ” 
In short, the Constitution was a closed book by which 
Americans must live henceforth and forever This Consti- 
tution, needless to say, was looked upon as a catalogue of 
limitations rather than a grant of powers 

Not satisfied with appropriating the Constitution to their 
purposes, laissez-faire conservatives abandoned the skepti- 
cism or hostility of the ante-bellum Right toward the Dec- 
laration of Independence and welcomed it back into the 
fold of respectability Justice Field shouted the loudest 
welcome in Butchers’ Unwn Co v Crescent City Co. 
(1883), saluting the Declaration as "that new evangel 
of liberty to the people” and identifying the pursuit of hap- 
piness with pure economic individualism 

In its practical applications, the constitutional theory of 
laissez-faire conservatism looked first of all to a strong, 
dignified, independent judiciary pledged to defend prop- 
erty and economic liberty with the weapon of judicial re- 
view John W Burgess of Columbia spoke for every man 
of the faith when he singled out the judiciary — that 
“learned, experienced, impartial, unprejudiced, upright 
organ for main taming , . the constitutional balance be- 
tween Government and Liberty” — as the noblest instru- 
ment of free government The Supreme Court was the 
living embodiment of the principles and hopes of laissez- 
faire constitutionalism 

The legislature, on the other hand, was to operate un- 
der severe constitutional restrictions Laissez-faire conserv- 



much of the passion with which its spokesmen assaulted 
advocates of reform Men who tampered with the estab- 
lished order were not only fools for ignoring the advice of 
leaders of enterprise, but idiots for challenging eternal ver- 
mes "God and Nature have ordained the chances and con- 
ditions of life on earth once and for all," Sumner wrote 
“The case cannot be opened We cannot get a revision of 
the laws of human life * 

Sumner and his colleagues grounded their higher law on 
the assumption of immutable selfishness in human nature 
The nub of the law was simply “Darwin plus Spencer" 
natural selection, the survival of the fittest, progress 
through the competitive struggle of acquisitive individ- 
uals "Let it be understood,” Sumner warned, 

that we cannot go outside of this alternative liberty, 
inequality, survival of the fittest, not — liberty, equal- 
ity, survival of the unfittest The former carries soci- 
ety forward and favors all its best members, the latter 
carries society downwards and favors all its worst 

One corollary of the basic law was the doctrine of in- 
alienable rights, of which much was heard in the Supreme 
Court “There are rights in every free government beyond 
the control of the state,” Justice Samuel F Miller asserted 
Justice Field agreed “Certain inherent rights he at the 
foundation of all action, and upon a recognition of them 
alone can free institutions be maintained ” These rights, 
we have learned, were largely economic in character 

Another corollary was the proposition that ordinary law 
must conform to the higher law or be utterly void Field 
made use of both corollaries in his angry dissent to the 
Court’s approval of greenbacks as legal tender in Knox v 
Lee (1871) 

, For acts of flagrant injustice there is no au- 
thority in any legislative body, even though not re- 
strained by any expres* >*bhitionaI prohibition 
For as there are unchan ' ,I es 0 f nght ^ 

•• . 1 wrthout impossible. 


were intensely conservative about inherited institutions 
and arrangements He family, church, school, property, 
and the class system, and they apparently assumed that 
their adventures m finance and industrial expansion would 
leave the good old ways untouched All these institutions 
were asked to serve in the noble cause of economic liberty 
For example, ministers of the Gospel were expected to 
make the unsuccessful happy with their lot, to assure the 
successful that, m Bishop Lawrence’s words, "Godliness 
is in league with riches,” and to instruct the young in in- 
dustry, frugality, and honesty The cold-blooded manner 
m which laissez-faire conservatism made use of religion is 
illustrated m this concluding passage from William Male- 
peace Thayer’s Tact, Push and Principle (1880) 

It is quite evident . that religion requires the 
following very reasonable things of every young man, 
namely that he should male the most of himself pos- 
sible, that he should watch and improve his oppor- 
tunities, that he should be industrious, upright, 
faithful, and prompt, that he should task his talents, 
whether one or ten, to the utmost, that he should 
waste neither time nor money, that duty, and not 
pleasure or ease, should be his watchword. . . Re- 

ligion uses all the just motives of worldly wisdom, 
and adds thereto those higher motives that immor- 
tality creates Indeed, we might say that religion de- 
mands success 

“Religion demands success” — in those three words is 
caught the ascendant spirit of what some call the Cilded 
Ago and others the Age of Enterprise 

The authentic laissez-faire conservative, hie the authen- 
tic Revolutionary of 1776, believed devoutly in the exist- 
ence of a higher law that dictated individual conduct, con- 
trolled the workings of society, set limits to government, 
and promised prosperity to men and progress to na- 
tions IBs version of higher law was narrow and twisted, 
)et he was convinced that he, too, had somehow got hold 
of absolute truth. This conviction lent an air of sanctity 
and finality to laissez-faire conservatism that accounts for 


atives hoped that Congress and the state assemblies would 
be stocked with solid men of property who were anxious 
to shun the mortal sm of “over-legislation,” but, lacking 
faith even in their own friends in power, they looked upon 
all legislatures with suspicion The only good legislature 
was an adjourned legislature For the Senate of the United 
States, however, as 'for the Supreme Court, they reserved 
peculiar affection In these two bodies, at least, sat natural 
aristocrats almost as eminent as the “captains of industry " 
For many a captain a seat in the Senate was a crown of 
honor for his labors 

If laissezfaire conservatives had little love for legisla- 
tures, they had even less for executives In their bitter op- 
position to activist government, they drove the Whig tra- 
dition of Webster and Clay to absurd extremes Their 
ideal President was a man who confined his activibes to 
executing the will of Congress, they found their ideal near 
the end of the road in Calvin Coohdge 
Finally, laissez-faire conservatives were bitterly opposed 
to direct democracy," plunging gladly into the fight 
against deluded men” like La Follette who proposed to 
erahze state constitutions, and even the great Constitu- 
tl0n t 1 , ts *“* With techniques like initiative, referendum, and 
reca They wanted more, not fewer restrictions on the 
W n, i majority “The path of true political democ- 
racy, Nicholas Murray Butler said in the spirit of conserva- 

leads, in my judgment, not to more frequent elections 
but to fewer elections, it leads not to more elective 
officers, but to fewer, it leads not to more direct pop- 
u interference with representative institutions, but 
to less, it leads to a political practice in which a few 
important officers are chosen for relatively long terms 
o service, given much power and responsibility, and 
then are held to strict accountability therefor, it 
leads not to more legislation, but to infinitely less 
Laissez-faire conservatives devoted few thoughts to so- 
«*** were concerned only that it be left alone by 
meddlers and planners to develop in its own way They 


were intensely conservative about inherited institutions 
and arrangements like family, church, school, property, 
and the class system, and they apparently assumed that 
their adventures in finance and industrial expansion would 
leave the good old ways untouched All these institutions 
were asked to serve m the noble cause of economic liberty 
For example, ministers of the Gospel were expected to 
make the unsuccessful happy with their lot, to assure the 
successful that, m Bishop Lawrence’s words, "Godliness 
is m league with riches,” and to instruct the young m in- 
dustry, frugality, and honesty The cold-blooded manner 
m which laissez-faire conservatism made use of religion is 
illustrated in this concluding passage from William Make- 
peace Thayer’s Tact, Push and Principle (1880) 

It is quite evident . . that religion requires the 

following very reasonable things of every young man, 
namely, that be should make the most of himself pos- 
sible, that he should watch and improve his oppor- 
tunities, that he should be industrious, upright, 
faithful, and prompt, that he should task his talents, 
whether one or ten, to the utmost, that he should 
waste neither time nor money, that duty, and not 
pleasure or ease, should be his watchword. . . Re- 
ligion uses all the just motives of worldly wisdom, 
and adds thereto those higher motives that immor- 
tality creates Indeed, we might say that religion de- 
mands success. 

"Religion demands success”— m those three words is 
caught the ascendant spint of what some call the Gilded 
Age and others the Age of Enterprise. 

The authentic laissez-faire conservative, like the authen- 
tic Revolutionary of 1776, believed devoutly m the exist- 
ence of a higher law that dictated individual conduct, con- 
trolled the workings of society, set limits to government, 
and promised prosperity to men and progress to na- 
tions Hu version of higher law was narrow and twisted, 
yet he was convinced that he, too, had somehow got hold 
of absolute truth. This conviction lent an air of sanctity 
and finality to laissez faire conservatism that accounts for 



much of the passion with which its spokesmen assaulted 
advocates of reform Men who tampered with the estab- 
lished order were not only fools for ignoring the advice of 
leaders of enterprise, but idiots for challenging eternal ver- 
ities God and Nature have ordained the chances and con- 
ditions of life on earth once and for all," Sumner wrote 
“The case cannot be opened We cannot get a revision of 
the laws of human life " 

Sumner and his colleagues grounded their higher law on 
the assumption of immutable selfishness in human nature 
e nub of the law was simply “Darwin plus Spencer” 
n . atura * selcttl °n. the survival of the fittest, progress 
through the competitive struggle of acquisitive individ- 
uals Let ,t be understood ” Sumner warned, 

that we cannot go outside of this alternative liberty, 
inequality, survival of the fittest, not— liberty, equal- 
ity, survival of the unfittest The former carries soci- 
ety forward and favors all its best members, the latter 
cames society downwards and favors all its worst 

.1,25.1 °/ the baS,C kw was doctrine of in* 

rW b ^£ 8htS ' ° f Whlch much heard in the Supreme 
1 ,Cr r.f e nghtS “ evei y frcc government beyond 
t J««* Samuel F Miller asserted 

foundatm* 6 r a S^ eet * Certain inherent nghts he at the 
*“ “ d »P» a mcogrotron of them 

„!" h “ be maintained* The,, rights, 

1.. ’ " e re largely economic m character 

Another corolluy was u,, p ropos , u „ lha , ordl „ Uw 

SI >"Ste. law „ bo utterly said Field 
Court! a ° Ib e.iuuLuis in his angry dissent to the 
Court s^pproia 1 of gmcubacls a. legal in Knox v 

lh„L,ro ,C “ ° ! • there is no au- 

. y ui any egulatiso body, esen though not se- 
suaiacd by any esptoss consbtuuonal pTohib.tion 
for a. there m, unchangeable prioaplea of right and 
inoraLty, without which socacty would bo Impossible, 


and men would be but wild beasts preying upon 
each other, so there are fundamental principles of 
eternal justice, upon the existence of which all con- 
stitutional government is founded, and without which 
government would be an intolerable and hateful tyr- 

On most occasions laissez-faire justices had no trouble 
finding an "express constitutional prohibition” with which 
to strike down a piece of meddling legislation This did not 
render such legislation any less a violation of eternal jus- 
tice, however, for the express prohibition, like the whole 
Constitution, was looked upon as an earthly interpretation 
of higher law. 

This new version of the law of nature pointed to inevita- 
ble progress While there were some doubters, notably 
Sumner, among the more solid of its oracles, most laissez- 
faire conservatives professed to believe with Carnegie m 
the "certain and steady progress of the race” Although 
the doctnne of inevitable progress strayed far from the 
Conservative tradition, it had a thoroughly conservative 
purpose and w fact served nobly as a defense of the estab- 
lished order Since the order was itself the promise of 
progress, all reforms could be branded as reactionary med- 

Robert McCloskey has observed that laissez-faire con- 
servatives tended to equate civilization with industrializa- 
tion, and progress with “the accumulation of capital and 
the proliferation of industrial inventions” Their view of 
the whole social process, however, seems to have been 
genuinely optimistic Progress, individualism, negative 
government, liberty, property, competition, struggle, the 
survival of the fittest — tnese were the essence of nature’s 
commands The last of these was first in importance In 
the ever fresh words with which the junior Rockefeller is 
said to have explained it all to a Sunday-school class 

The growth of a Urge business is merely a survival 
of the fittest The American Beauty rose can be 
produced in the splendor and fragrance which bring 
cbeer to its beholder only by sacrificing the early 


buds which grow up around it This is not an evil 
tendency in business It is merely tho working-out of 
a law of naturo and a law of Cod. 

Laissez-faire conservatism, whether os articulate philos* 
ophy or mere bundlo of prejudices, gained virtually com- 
plete domination over the minds of Amen cans who were 
or hoped to be solid and respectable. Champions of the 
new faith, most of whom needed no encouragement from 
men of industrial wealth, were active in every comer of 
American life. The articles of this faith were taught in 
schools and colleges, preached from thousands of pulpits, 
made the basis of official policy, and advanced as the moral 
of countless speeches, poems, tracts, and novels While 

many conservative Aracncans deplored the excesses and 
injustices of industrial capitalism, they deplored them in 
the languago of Camcglo and Sumner There was bttle 
room for alternative political and social philosophies. Lais- 
sez-faire conservatism, as packaged for general consump- 
tion, seemed to express the realities and fill tho needs of 
thenew America Lake all working philosophies, it was the 
product of a small, self-conscious minority, vet it trickled 
down through tho social order to infect and inspire several 
generations of American conservatives 
».ki" of finance and industry, who were far too prof- 
real buMesj ° f to waste time on 
thought and orjtoty, kl, .elite p„ pa6aUo „ of the faith tc. 

wtfcg tOhe. « th. bench, !n J p , ^ m A fcw m . 

•c . wrote books and made speeches in support of 
,v, er ° Ve . r rei gned in splendor, and of 

. _ , e e l° < l'icnt was the one-time immigrant bob- 
/.oo./' ew ^ arlle S ie lbs Triumphant Democracy 
tumiv latT 35 a J 0 ^ 0U3 byma to a free, democratic, oppor- 
nerf^+i 60 4 rn ®^ lca ^ at was well on the way to earthly 
° f WeaUh <*««») wi the chZ 
SI iaaaKa » rvlce ^ Qr tb ® new aristocracy. And his many 
solid ° men were homely catalogues of the 

ohd virtues No one could challenge' Carneys nght to 
dent ^ menca ’ heartily subscribe to Presi- 

ent Garfield s doctrme that 'the richest heritage a young 


man can be bom to is poverty,’ * or "Aim for the highest, 
never enter a barroom, do not touch liquor concen- 
basket"^ ™ ^ 0Ur e 8S s m one basket, and watch that 

1 wf a ^ na ° f P olltlcs rang with the slogans of the new 
e x l > C ^ e P u bhcans were the party of unquestioned 
respectability, but Democrats, too— men hke the painfully 
correc Tuden and thoroughly conservative Cleveland — 
w ere edicated to the ideals if not the excesses of laissez- 
taire conservatism From Grant to Hoover most Pres- 
ents of the United States preached the gospel of eco- 
nomic individualism m the moderate, hopeful, old-fash- 
loned language that appealed so strongly to the great 
middle class In William McKinley and Calvin Coolidge 
10 middle-class conservative found his ideal statesmen, 
the eve of cataclysm, in a world made over by corpo- 
rate enterprise. President Coohdge expressed in word and 
pereon the old-fashioned American individualism that ha 
had learned as a boy 

The most thoughtful laissez-faire conservatives in high 
political position, men to whom the title "statesman" can 
he granted without violence to truth, were Ehhu Root and 
Wdham Howard Taft Their greatest services were to the 
cause of conservative constitutionalism, which they de- 
fended steadfastly against the assaults of direct democ- 
racy In his university lectures, speeches in the New York 
Constitutional Conventions of 1894 and 1915, and ad- 
dresses to the bar, Root expressed a legal and constitu- 
tional philosophy in which he came as near to genuine 
conservatism as did any politically activ e man of his time 
He delivered the conservative’s solemn message to advo- 
cates of government by the people, "the great truth that 
self-restraint Is the supreme necessity and the supreme 
virtue of a democracy," and ho expressed the persistent 
conservative belief that respect for old ways and perma- 
nent values is the prerequisite of true progress. 

The leaders of enterprise found many allies on the cam- 
pus, though the numbers and enthusiasm of academic in- 
dividualists declined sharply after the i88o*s The most 
influential of these men was William Graham Sumner, a 



truly commanding figure, who wrote prolifically and elo- 
quently in dension of "the absurd effort to make the world 
over and m support of his own brand of “Liberalism.” It 
is a telling commentary on the character of business think- 
ing that he fell into some difficulties with the Yale author- 
ities over his anh-protectionist views 

University presidents were much in demand as orators 
for the cause of economic liberty Nicholas Murray Butler 
of Columbia, Arthur T Hadley of Yale, and A Lawrence 
Lowell of Harvard were educators who, though voicing 
occasional doubts about the absolute purity of the gospel 
of laissez-faire, could be counted on to smite the reformers 
hip and thigh Theodore Dwight Woolsey of Yale and 
John W Burgess of Columbia were the most eminent polit- 
ical scientists to deplore the nso of powerful, majontanan 
government The latter’s Reconciliation of Gooerment vnth 
Liberty (1915) brought all history to the support of con- 
servative constitutionalism Other influential academic ex- 
ponents of the new individualism were the classical econ- 
omists, many of whose writings were used as texts in col- 
leges throughout the land Cencral Francis A Walker. 
Henry Wood, David A. Wells, Arthur L Perry, Thomas 
Nixon Carver, J Lawrence Laughhn, and John Bates 
Clark While several of these men came to recognize the 
need for some sort of government intervention to preserve 
the competitive sjstem, all served a science of economics 
ase on the acquisitive individual and the self -regulating 

Bar and bench bristled with wamors for laissez-faire 
conservatism From the founding of the American Bar As- 
sociation in 1878, meetings of this conservative group 
were, in Edward S Corwin’s words, "a sort of juristic sew- 
ing circle for mutual education in the gospel of laisses- 
faire John A Campbell, Thomas N Cooley, William M 
Evarts, James C Carter, John F Dillon, William D Guth- 
rie, Christopher G Tiedeman, and Joseph H Choate were 
a few of the stalwarts engaged in shielding corporate in- 
terests against Populism, Grangensm, and Pxogressivism 
The spirit and purpose of their labors were bluntly stated 
m Tiedeman s Treatise on the Limitations of the Police 


Powers (1886): to defend economic liberty against “an 
absolutism more tyrannical . . than any before experi- 
enced by man, the absolutism of a democratic majority." 

The high-water mark of legal conservatism was Choate’s 
argument before the Supreme Court m 1895 against the 
income tax, which he branded a “communistic" death- 
blow to “that great fundamental principle that underlies 
the Constitution, namely, the equality of all men before 
the law" The happy news that Choate’s reasoning had 
prevailed and that the Court had voided the income tax 
was greeted by the editor of the New York Sun with these 

The wave of socialistic revolution has gone far, but 
it breaks at the foot of the ultimate bulwark set up 
for the protection of our liberties Five to four the 
Court stands like a rock. 

While five-to-four decisions are not generally consid- 
ered the sign of a rockhke judiciary, the Sun’s grimly exult- 
ant comment doe* reveal the depth of laissez-faire con- 
servative devotion to the Supreme Court Well might 
the mellifluous Henry R. Estabrook salute the Court as 
“the most rational, considerate, discerning, veracious, im- 
personal power — a power peculiar and unique in the his- 
tory of the world," for through all the years between 
Grangensm and the New Deal it was the faithful, only oc- 
casionally fractious servant of the new industrialism It 
strengthened the technique of judicial review, trans- 
formed the due-process clause of the Fourteenth Amend- 
ment into a bulwark of economic liberty.^ spun out such 
fictions as the corporation as person and the employer and 
worker as bargaining equals, met the ch all enge of organ- 
ized labor with the injunction and the doctrine of freedom 
of contract, and took direct charge of reviving the higher 
law The opinions and speeches of such shdwaits as 
Stephen ]. Field, David J Brewer, Rufus W. Peckham, 
and George Sutherland were classic expressions of laissez- 
faire conservatism. 

The pulpit swelled the nsmg chorus In many a church, 
parishioners heard more preaching 0/ the Gospel of 



Wealth than of the Gospel of Christ The Right Reverend 
William Lawrence, Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts 
from 1893 to 1926, proclaimed the affinity of “wealth and 
morals” Russell Con well, a Philadelphia Baptist, preached 
the solemn duty of making money in his fantastically pop- 
ular Acres of Dmmonds President James McCosh of 
Pnnceton defended property as a divine right And Henry 
Ward Beecher announced, in the midst of hard times 

I do not say that a dollar a day is enough to support 
a working man But it is enough to support a man! 
Not enough to support a man with five children if a 
man insists on smoking and drinking beer • But 
the man who cannot live on bread and water is not 
fit to live 

True to the American tradition of sects and sectaries, 
the age of industrial expansion gave nse to a new religion, 
a brand of mysticism called "New Thought ” which was 
dedicated openly to success in this world rather than sal- 
vation m the next The highroad to nches, according to the 
priests of this cult, was open to men who practiced the 
Jnmtan virtues and exerted "personal magnetism” and 
nigh-pressure salesmanship " 

Finally, the world of letters and oratory contributed a 
small army to the cause John Fiske and Edward L You- 
mans earned the teachings of Herbert Spencer to audi- 
ences all over Amenca Horatio Alger’s novels and Wil- 
ham Makepeace Tha j er’s biographies of poor boys who 
tod made good sold literally millions of copies Elbert 
Hubbard took his countless readers on moralistic Little 
Journeys to the Homes of Good Men and Great Thou- 
sands of lesser imitators of these moulders of American 
opinion wrote and lectured m the associated causes of vir- 
tue, effort, and success 

In 1915 Truxton Beale, troubled by the rapid advance 
of government intervention under Wilson’s New Freedom, 
aunched a special edition of Herbert Spencer’s evangel of 
laissez-faire. The Man versus the State What makes this 
bon especially interesting is the galaxy of men whom 
e prevailed upon to add approving comments to Spen- 


cer's fiercely anti-statist essays Nicholas Murray Butler, 
Charles William Eliot, Augustus P Gardner, Elbert H 
Gary, Henry Cabot Lodge, Ekhu Root, David Jayne Hill, 
and, oddly enough, Harlan Fiske Stone Their tribute to 
Spencer, the English philosopher who had converted Dar- 
win’s biology into a “scientific” explanation of the workings 
of human society, was earnest, eloquent, and long over- 
due Between 1870 and 1890 his brand of Social Darwinism 
reigned supreme over many of the best minds of the Amer- 
ican Right, and certainly no foreign philosopher ever had 
a more visible effect on American thought His visit to 
America in 1882, climaxed by a lavish banquet and even 
more lavish round of speeches at Delmomco’s, was an 
extraordinary triumph for a man who had been thinker 
rather than doer The ultimate tribute to Spencer’s philos- 
ophy is in Carnegie’s Autobiography “Light came as in a 
flood and all was clear ” The best explanation of its popu- 
larity is in T C Cochran’s and William Miller's The Age 
of Enterprise “To a generation singularly engrossed in the 
competitive pursuit of industrial wealth it gave cosmic 
sanction to free competition In an age of science, it ‘scien- 
tifically’ justified ceaseless exploitation * The businessmen, 
politicians, professors, lawyers, judges, preachers, authors, 
and orators who advertised the beauties of laissez-faire 
conservatism were all, whether they knew it or not, dis- 
ciples of Herbert Spencer. The greatest of American Iais- 
sez-faire conservatives was an English Liberal 

We have looked into laissez-faire conservatism with unu- 
sual care because knowledge of its history and principles 
is the key to an understanding, not only of the mind of the 
modem Right, but of the development of the whole Amer- 
ican political tradition I shall put off using this key until 
a later chapter, restricting these concluding remarks to a 
summing-up of the post-Civil War Right and its extraor- 
dinary political theory. 

In defiance or ignorance of the spirit of nineteenth-cen- 
tury Conservatism, but true to its practical and opportun- 
istic character, the Right made a peace of convenience 
and profit with the two mighty forces of the age. de- 



mocracy and industrialism Instead of fighting a rear-guard 
action against the advance of democracy, it recognized 
that popular government was here to Stay and set out to 
control such government to its own ends Instead of resist- 
ing the nse of industrialism, it acted as the chief agent and 
became the chief beneficiary of technological change In 
short, instead of practising a dogged conservatism and 
reaping the usual harvest of unpopularity, it made a most 
unconservahve bid for the admiration of its own age and 
the plaudits of posterity It did all this in casual confidence 
that neither democracy nor industrial expansion would 
shake old values and comipt old institutions 

In welcoming the science of Darwin and Spencer and in 
reviving the higher law, laissez-faire conservatism went 
further than any other major school of American thought 
toward a belief in absolutes There was, as we have ob- 
served, an air of sanctity and finality about this faith that 
seemed strangely out of place in an age of enterprise The 
tnen of the Right thought they had stumbled on eternal 
truth, and they were neither modest nor tentative in pro- 
claiming their solution to the nddle of the ages 
This solution, the command of a God who smiled on en- 
terprise and of a nature that would soon hold no secrets, 
was summed up as inevitable, unlimited progress through 
the competitive struggle of acquisitive individuals Indi- 
vidual striving, not collective effort, acquisition, not enjoy- 
ment, conflict, not harmony, self-interest, not fraternal 
sympathy, competition, not co-operation — these were the 
preferences of God and nature 
Not only did laissez-faire conservatives accept the hope- 
ful teachings of Liberal democracy, they saw themselves 
as the legitimate trustees of this great tradition They did 
this by identifying capitalism with democracy, by convinc- 
ing themselves that the economic liberty of John D Rock- 
efeller was the same thing, only better, as the all- 
embracing liberty of Thomas Jefferson This was not, of 
course, an altogether miraculous feat The democratic 
ogma had always incorporated two quite different biases 
one toward political liberty, the other toward property 
—and every man had a right to read it hu own way The 


laissez-faire conservatives, it might be argued, were the 
true heirs of Locke 

What made it possible for laissez-faire conservatism to 
stage this unintentional ideological coup was the shift in 
the style and concern of political thought from ethics to 
economics The intellectual chmate of the age was pro- 
foundly materialistic Politics, religion, education, culture, 
social affairs — all seemed dwarfed by the tremendous 
events taking place m the arena of economic enterprise 
The political thinking of the giants who strode about this 
arena and of the many people who applauded them was 
inevitably warped toward economic considerations In the 
pages of their tracts, liberty is property, man is an eco- 
nomic unit, the aristocracy is the handful of men who have 
survived in the struggle Progress is equated with growth, 
the free man with the successful entrepreneur, life with 
earning a living, Thomas Jefferson with Herbert Spencer, 
and equality before Cod and the law with "equality of 
opportunity" — that is, with outrageous inequalities m sta- 
tus and possession Bishop Lawrence put his stamp of epis- 
copal approval on the spirit of the times when he cried 

Material prosperity is helping to make the national 
character sweeter, more joyous, more unselfish, more 
Chnst-like That is my answer to the question as to 
the relation of material prosperity to morality. 

Laissez-faire conservatism was no monopoly of Carnegie 
and Rockefeller, it was an outlook on life that had a broad 
appeal Its extreme apostles, to be sure, were elitists with a 
vengeance, hut most men who held it were neither nch 
nor powerful nor, for that matter, self-conscious Sumner, 
for one, made as much sense to the middle class "on the 
make" as to the filin g class that had already “made 
good" His "hero of civilization" was the "savings bank 
depositor” no less than the millionaire, and the depositor 
responded by taking a good part of Sumner’s teachings, if 
not Sumner himself, to his heart. 

Finally, despite its patronage of change and premature 
acceptance of democracy, laissez-faire conserv atism was at 



bottom a conservative political faith It is a mistake, I 
think, to treat it simply as an aberration of nineteen th-ccn- 
tuiy Liberalism I would consider it equally an aberration 
of Conservatism, a philosophy preservative in purpose and 
traditionalist in principle The men who shared this philos- 
ophy were fundamentally conservative, for they opposed 
all change except industrial expansion, feared reform as a 
threat to the established order, and presumed to have in* 
hented a system based on political and social truth Many 
articles of their faith were essentials of the Conservative 
tradition the inevitability of stratification, persistence of 
natural inequalities, necessity of aristocracy, importance 
of religion and morabty, sanctity of property, unwisdom of 
majority rule, urgency of constitutionalism, and folly of 
all attempts at social and economic leveling To be sure, 
laissez-faire conservatives defined several of these con* 
cepts m their own way, but the twists they gave to aristoc- 
racy and property were nothing compared to the havoc 
they wreaked upon democracy and equality Where they 
clearly strayed from Conservatism was in their glorification 
of rugged individualism and consequent disregard for the 
community, their choice of struggle over harmony and 
contract over status as the bases of sound human relations, 
their fatuous optimism and confidence in progress (from 
which a substantial minority dissented), and their un- 
abashed, all pervading materialism They were the first 
Bight m Western history to turn violently against govern- 
ment, the only Right to push individualism so far as to as- 
sert that a man could never be helped, only harmed, by 
the assistance of the community Th’ worst tiling )e can 
do Fr anny man is to do him good," were the words Mr. 
Dooley put in the mouth of “Andhrew Camaygie,” and al- 
though the comment may disturb many recipients of Car- 
negie’s generosity, it does express die intense, almost 
fanatic individualism of the creed of enterprise This creed 
was neither Conservatism in the tradition of Burke (or 
even Adams) nor Liberalism in the tradition of Mill (or 
even Jefferson) It was, in a word, laissez faire conserva- 


Not every man on the Right in the decades of industrial 
expansion was a confirmed laissez-faire conservative A 
tiny but articulate minority of disillusioned entrepreneurs, 
nostalgic agrarians, sensitive intellectuals, and gentlemen 
of inherited wealth hung on gnmly and defiantly to the 
values of a departed era To them the rosy promises of 
Carnegie seemed as ridiculous as the rosy promises of Eu- 
gene V Debs, the absolutism of Sumner as distasteful as 
the absolutism of Edward Bellamy Although their writ- 
ings offer a nch variety of principles and solutions, most of 
them drew consciously or unconsciously on the Conserva- 
tism of Adams and Burke They refused to put faith m 
predictions of inevitable progress or take delight in the 
marks of "progress" all about them To the contrary, they 
were revolted by the decline in public morality, decay of 
manners, and vulgarity of the newly nch, frightened by a 
landscape gashed with lactones and cities choked with 
immigrants The old Amenca of then fathers was being 
transformed at a mad pace to a new, unlovely Amenca, 
and they were not at all sure that the transformation could 
be halted this side of a total collapse of civilized values In 
an age in which most men on the Right displayed an exu- 
berant optimism that was characteristically American, a 
small band of dissenters displayed a solemn pessimism that 
was characteristically Conservative 

They cared no more for the fruits of democracy than for 
those of mdus tnalism They had never really made peace 
with Jefferson and Jackson, and they could not bring 
themselves now, in the days of Blaine and Tweed, to be- 
lieve that plain men could make wise choices and govern 
themselves effectively and honestly In their hearts they 
Still earned the dream of government by gentlemen They, 
too, were elitists, but their ideal elite was an aristocracy of 
virtue, intelligence, property, and manners, not a band of 
hard-fisted adventurers who had managed to survive a 
fight to the death. A contempt for plutocracy arose natu- 
rally m the minds of men who tried, often successfully, to 
hold out against the sweep of materialism across the Amer- 
ican mind Unlike most of their compatriots on the Right, 
they refused to equate bigness with greatness, capital ac- 



cumulation with the general welfare, or invention with 
progress. They persisted, to their sorrow and anger, in 
judging nations in terms of artists and cathedrals rather 
than millionaires and factories 
The men of this minority clung to the Conservatism of 
the past in rejecting the doctime of rugged individualism 
and all its corollaries Although they were deeply con- 
cerned with the rights and personality of the individual, 
they would not be drawn into an attitude of contempt for 
government and neglect of the community While their 
i ea man, like the man of the American tradition, was 
onest, hard-working, and self reliant, he was also chari- 
e, sensitive, and co-operative Most of them agreed 
t individual effort was essential to progress, but only 
sue effort as staged within the bounds of tradition and 
common decency Harmony and status, not conflict and 
e cash nexus, ’ were their guides to sound human rela- 

The dissident Conservatives of the age of industrial ex- 
pansion were plainly out of step with most of their fellow 
countrymen in the march toward the American future A 
corpora s guard of men who could make peace with 
neither industrialism nor democracy, they had little influ- 
ence on a nation m which these forces were the accepted 
Tw a T SOU 8 ht no ^anks from the people they 
astised, and they got none Yet they did keep the Con- 
T . ad,h0n atve » d on, y barely alive, for future 
icm J* W ^° mi 8^ 1 weary of progress, optimism, matenal- 
’ emocrac y. and rugged individualism, and we should 
pay oor respect, to the roost promment of them 
f ^ . ams famiI y- properly enough, produced a pair of 
hu toted aristocrats who*, Conserve Sve mustngi con- 
ascinate historians of the American mind The 
effl,r“u ™e‘" g5 0t Henr y Adams — especially hts Edo- 
eatton, JfoM-Sumt.Jf.chel and Chartres, and letters to 
chnllf» S 311 , were a severe and often unanswerable 

and nraWs °i j 6 °P hm,shc advocates of mdustnal progress 
term^ f emocrac y His countrymen, rather wisely in 
^ lr lrn mediate interests, chose to ignore the 
challenge How else could they have dealt with a man 



who stated bluntly “The progress of evolution from Pres- 
ident Washington to President Grant was alone enough to 
upset Darwin"? While his lifelong search for a social or- 
der marked by peace, unity, faith, harmony, and stability 
led Henry Adams in time to spiritual affinity with the thir- 
teenth century (and thus to political alienation from the 
nineteenth and twentieth), his everyday mind would have 
been well content with the government of the yeomen, by 
the gentry, and for the people that his great-grandfather 
John had labored to build 

Brooks Adams shared his brother's pessimism about 
progress, skepticism of democracy, and contempt for the 
industrial plutocracy His own brand of eccentricity took 
him onward into the future rather than backward into the 
past He was a classic example of the romantic Conserva- 
tive who, despairing of regaining old ways and \alues by 
negative techmques, proposes programs of reform so far- 
reaching as to earn him the reputation of visionary radical- 
His cure for America's sad state was proposed in terms that 
must have troubled his heart while they appealed to his 
reason administrative supremacy and flexibility, concen- 
tration of power, social planning, national supremacy, and 
state socialism Yet he continued to think in a fundamen- 
tally Conservative spirit. 

Perhaps the hottest argument of the old-fashioned 
Right with laissez-faire conservatism was over the identity 
and duty of the little band of uncommon men upon whose 
leadership civilization depended The pretensions of the 
new man of wealth were never more effectively chal- 
lenged than by Brooks Adams In his Theory of Social Rev- 
olutions (1913), he condemned this man and his influence 
on the social order in words that still cany meaning. 

The modem capitalist looks upon life as a financial 
combat of a very specialized land, regulated by a 
code which he understands and has indeed himself 
concocted, but which is recognized by no one else m 
the world. . . He is not responsible, for be is not a 
trustee far the public If be be restrained by legisla- 
tion, that legislation is in his eye an oppression and an 



outrage, to be annulled or eluded by any means 
which will not lead to the penitentiary . . Thus of 
necessity, he precipitates a conflict, instead of estab- 
lishing an adjustment Ho is, therefore, in essence, a 
revolutionist without being aware of it. 

This was the angry protest of the rejected aristocrat 
against the reigning plutocrat, of the uncommon man who 
longed for peace against the uncommon man who de- 
ghted in struggle, of the thinker who looked to leadership 
for preservation and harmony against the doer whose lead- 
ership brought change and conflict 

Paul Elmer More and Irving Babbitt, critics of upstart 
men and plebeian culture who reached the peak of their 
powers m the days of Warren G Harding, were other 
leaders of the Conservative minority Their “new human- 
ism was a sophisticated restatement of the Conservative 
tradition The natural inequality of men, education as a 
process of discovering and exploiting superior talents and 
energies, justice as a fair division of rewards according to 
aC , f l j Ven,e . nt * t ^ ie natural aristocracy based on virtue and 
self -discipline (the “inner check"), the dangers of uiue- 
s ame individualism, the improbability of successful 
democracy— these are the constant themes of Babbitt’s 
emocracy and Leadership (1924) and Mores Shel- 
oume especwUy Aristocracy and Justice (1913) 

Babbitt pushed beyond More in his distrust of democracy 
and regard for authority. More be>ond Babbitt m his de- 
ense o property They also differed in their attitude to- 
warn religion Babbitt never could find communion with 
. ° A ' ^ 1 e More traveled the long road from skepticism 
to Anglican orthodoxy They spoke as one m their insist- 
ence on the need for a true aristocracy Babbitt wrote 
Democracy and Leadership in an effort to show 

that genuine leadership, good or bad, there will al- 
ways e, and that democracy becomes a menace to 
civilization when it seeks to evade the truth On 
e appearance of leaders who have recovered in 
some orm the truths of inner life may depend 
toe very survival of Western civilization 


“We have the naked question to answer,* More echoed. 

How shall a society, newly shaking itself free 
from a disguised plutocratic regime, be guided to 
suffer the persuasion of a natural aristocracy which 
has none of the insignia of an old prescnpbon to im- 
pose its authority? 

The quest of Babbitt and More was for men who could 
hold the balance between plutocracy and egalitarianism 
To them the problem of political theory was to discover 
methods of persuading democracy to revive aristocracy, in 
Babbitt’s memorable admonition, "to substitute the doc- 
trine of the right man for the rights of man ” 

Again we have bad to neglect some exciting exemplars 
of conservative political and social thought A definitive 
history of the post-Cml War Right would tell of George 
Santayana, who lingered for a fame among us and warned 
of the inevitable excesses of democracy and capitalism, 
Ralph Adams Cram, whose love for the * High Democracy” 
of the Middle Ages was the zenith of intellectual reaction 
in the United States, Agnes Repplier, a gracious lady of 
Philadelphia, whose essays spoke fondly of the "Consola- 
tions of the Conservative", H L Mencken, the "curdled 
progressive,” whose savage yet amusing Notes on Democ- 
racy ( 1926) proclaimed the average American’s “congeni- 
tal incapacity for the elemental duties of citizens in a civi- 
lized state”, Albert Jay Nock, who managed to be at one 
and the same time a disciple of Burke, Jefferson, Henry 
George, and Spencer, Madison Grant, one of several 
Rightist thinkers who injected the racist doctrines of Go- 
bineau and Chamberlain into their cnbque of American 
democracy, Barrett Wendell, Charles Ebot Norton, and 
James Russell Lowell, leaders in the revival of sentimental 
Federalism known as the "Genteel Tradibon”, Edith 
Wharton, WUla Cather, Ellen Glasgow, and Edward Ar- 
lington Robinson, writers with a deep concern for tradition 
and morabty, E L. Godkin, whose Unforeseen Tendencies 
of Democracy (1898) expressed disillusionment with the 
new civilization he had tned so hard, in bis own limited 
and genteel way, to save from vulgarity and degradation. 



outrage, to be annulled or eluded by any means 
which will not lead to the penitentiary . . Thus of 
necessity, he precipitates a conflict, instead of estab- 
lishing an adjustment He is, therefore, in essence, a 
revolutionist without being aware of it. 

This was the angry protest of the rejected aristocrat 
against the reigning plutocrat, of the uncommon man who 
onged for peace against the uncommon man who de- 
ghted in struggle, of the thinker who looked to leadership 
or preservation and harmony against the doer whose lead- 
ership brought change and conflict 

Paul Elmer More and Irving Babbitt, critics of upstart 
men and plebeian culture who reached the peak of their 
powers in the days of Warren G Harding, were other 
eaders of the Conservative minority Their "new human- 
vvas a sophisticated restatement of the Conservative 
bon The natural inequality of men, education as a 
process of discovering and exploiting superior talents and 
energies, justice as a fair division of rewards according to 
ac ievement, the natural aristocracy based on virtue and 
e - iscipW (the "inner check’ ) , the dangers of unre- 
st aine individualism, the improbability of successful 
emocracy these are the constant themes of Babbitt’s 
Democracy and Leadership (1924) and More’s Shel 
Essays, especially Aristocracy and Justice (igis) 

, 1 P us ec ^ beyond More in his distrust of democracy 
f J: reg t for auth °nty. More beyond Babbitt in his de- 

, 1 ° P r °perty They also differed in their attitude to- 

r ,1 \ ?'° n Ba bbitt never could find communion with 

tn Anil * 6 k °[ e Raveled the long road from skepticism 
They spoke os one m On nut. 
n e neec * ^ or a bne aristocracy Babbitt wrote 

Democracy and Leadership m an effort to show 

*at genuine leadership, good or bad, there will al- 
a >s e, and that democracy becomes a menace to 
civilization when it seeks to evade the truth On 
e a PP ear ance of leaders who have recovered in 
some form the truths of inner life may depend 
the verv survival of Western civilization 


If the years between McKinley and Coohdge were the 
full season of laissez-faire conservatism, the years between 
Hoover and the Eightieth Congress were a notous Indian 
summer It would serve us no purpose, rather glut us with 
the familiar, to examine in detail the barrage of ideas 
directed by the spokesmen of a shocked, disbelieving Right 
against the programs and tactics of Franklin D Roosevelt, 
chiefly because not one of these ideas displayed even a 
trace of freshness The conservative defense of the 1930’s 
was an almost perfect copy of the conservative defense of 
the 1890 's, which is to say that it was laissez-faire conserv- 
atism with few doubts and no apologies President Hoover 
sang the praises of old-fashioned American individualism 
in his Challenge to Liberty (1934), and in true Sumnenan 
fashion made clear that the challenge proceeded exclu- 
sively from an arrogant, swollen, meddling government 
Justice Sutherland and his outraged brethren m the Su- 
preme Court rang the old changes of conservative consti- 
tutionalism with a vigor that would have cheered the heart 
of Stephen J Field The American Liberty League and 
other like-minded groups were fountains of articles and 
brochures that could have been written word-for-word, 
as m fact some of the best of them were, by Sumner, 
Field, Carnegie, Elbert Hubbard, Nicholas Murray But- 
ler, and, of course, Herbert Spencer While Jefferson the 
progressive, the rationalist and democrat, was recalled 
and placed in ideological command of the forces of a 
bumptious progressivism, Jefferson the hmitatiomst, the 
anti-statist and states-nghter, found himself in a similar 
position of command in the forces of a pamc-stncken con- 
servatism For the men of the Right the fracas of the 
1930’s was Hadley's Conflict between Liberty and Equal- 
ity all over again, and in the conflict these men, unthink- 
ing conservatives that they were, seized gladly upon the 
old ideas that had served them so w ell in the past and be- 
labored the New Deal as a menace to human liberty Amer- 
ica had changed greatly since 1896. but one would never 
have guessed it by reading the literature of the Right 
The core of the conservative defense against Franklin D 
Roosevelt was the apparently tuneless rhetoric of William 



Oliver Wendell Holmes, jr , a patrician skeptic whose doc- 
trine of judicial self-restraint still leads some people to 
think of hun as a progressive, and finally, Theodore Roose- 
velt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and John Hay, Republican men 
of action who were deeply troubled by what Lodge called 
the gigantic modem plutocracy and its lawless ways ” 

We have, m any case, made this essential point m the 
ru 8§ e d wilderness of laissez-faire conservatism a few 
voices still cried out from the Right against industrialism, 
materialism, plutocracy, and individualism, in short, against 
the whole course of American history Having made this 
point, I would add another no one in the seats of power 
—often no one at all— paid the slightest attention to these 
cautionary voices In 1820 men like More and Henry 
Adams would have been listened to respectfully, in 1920 
ey were classed as silly, useless, irritating reactionaries 
The Conservative tradition had withered in the fiery fur- 
naces of industrial, democratic America, and the men who 
continued to proclaim ,t were intellectual ghosts Adams , 
composed the epitaph for the Conservatism of his fathers 
when he wrote of himself 

He had stood up for his eighteenth century, his 
Constitution of 1789, h.s Ccorge Washington, his 
Harvard College, h.s Quincy, and his Plymouth Pil- 
gnms, as ong as any one would stand up with him 
He had sa‘d it was hopeless twenty years before, but 
e a ept on, in the same old attitude, by habit and 
taste, until he found himself altogether alone He had 
u gg us antiquated dislike of bankers and canitabs- 
crank 06 ^ become little better than a 

season °f laissez-faire conservatism, to be a 
Conservative was to be Tittle better than a crank” To 
of A ° W S * e m ^ uence and esteem the peculiar course 
* ■ ®*” can history had brought the high principles of 
J. V ,, Ad fI nS and hu fnen ds Never in all that history ha s 
1^^ n persuasion of uncompromising conservatism 
0lW by tho Amccai peopl. 



O R 

The Search for Identity 
in the Welfare State 


A nation that considers itself a success and finds itself 
under attack has little use for progressive reform and none 
at all for radical ferment Small wonder, then, that Amer- 
ica’s present mood displays an obstinate streak of conserv- 
atism, Our triumphs are soured with frustration, our pros- 
perity with apprehension, our taste for peace with prep- 
arations for war We are all more conservative than we 
were a generation ago Even the reformer, the man with 
his heart in the future, is beard to speak the language of 
tradition, lojalty, order, and preservation We ha\e been 
beckoned bravely toward the New Frontier, but there is 
as yet no general disposition to send out a major expedi- 
tion in search of it. 

The Right, needless to say. has prospered greatly in the 
Course of this long Swing of the political pendulum toward 
conservatism. If it is not quite so strong and confident as it 
was in the salad days of Eisenhower, Taft, and, let us not 
forget, McCarthy, it is still a powerful and style-setting 


S" S “ Ce ““ rte “™ of He early New Deal n 
S T SoT P ' rI " p ‘ U “‘ f “»“ '■foolos'oef con- 
te of Left and R.ght Cells us a, much about the nature of 

&. P ?.r“T> ”’ d " d “ f *» Anrencan pelbeal 
Heusht, as ,t d^ abet natare of Ame[ ,„ J1 


ists a useful rule of thumb with which to identify those 
who belong on the Right Like any rule of thumb, its accu- 
racy is something less than one hundred per cent 

The contemporary Right, in my opinion, includes those 
who now admit to distaste for the dominant political the- 
ory and practice of the twenty years between Hoover and 
Eisenhower — for New Deal and Fan Deal, Roosevelt and 
Truman, service state and welfare state, reform at home 
and adventure abroad In Chapter I we took note of anta- 
radicalism as an element m conservatism Having waded 
hip-deep through the political literature of these years, I 
would assert without hesitation that the conservatism of 
the modern Right is essentially a posture of anti-radical- 
ism, even of anti-progressivism — a many-sided yet integral 
reaction to the New Deal, its leader, and his political heirs, 
among the most prominent of whom one might mention 
the old Henry Wallace, the old and new Harry S Tru- 
man, Adlai Stevenson, John L Lewis, Walter Reuthcr, 
Hubert Humphrey, Eleanor Roosevelt, Averell Hamman, 
and now John F Kennedy The decisiv e factor m the shap- 
ing of modem American conservatism was, of course, 
Franklin D Roosevelt lumself, the ambivalent legend as 
well as the real man, and the process of shaping is still far 
from completed Roosevelt lives on as strongly m the de- 
monology of the Right as he does m the hagiology of the 

The continuing hostility to the man and his works 
ranges from gnawing, unforgiving hatred to the tolerant 
judgment that, while much of what he did was prob- 
ably necessary to do, he did all things rather sloppily and 
some things he had no business doing at all Samuel Lu- 
bell has told us about ‘ the Roosevelt coalition ” I would 
suggest that there is today, m Congress and among the 
people, an “anb-Roosevelt coalition ” and that it may be 
labeled for what it is the American Right I would add 
quickly that, thanks to the traditionalism and professional- 
ism of much of our party politics, several million members 
of the anti-Roosevelt coalition would stall be voting for the 
man were be alive and running, and that, thanks to the 
remorseless sweep of events that he did much to set in 



presence in American politics and social relations Rarely 
history have so many Americans of all classes and call- 
ings stood fast in the ranks of preservation and order. 
Rarely have tho ranks been infiltrated by so many fcar- 
prcachmg demagogues Nostalgia, patriotism, fear of the 
unknown, dislike of tho critic and his criticisms, distrust 

0 e rc orTncr an ‘i Jui reforms — in theso sentiments the 
con 1 emporary Right haj been indulging with uncommon 
enthusiasm and attention to ntual, and m them the con- 
temporary Left finds a stubborn block m the way of its 
well-advertised “march into the American future." 

Tenaciously conservative in mood and practise, the 
Might remains almost a.nly Liberal in ideal and oratory, 
slandered by our enemies and chastised by our allies, few 

01 us can find any better way to defend the Republic than 

o s out the comfortable old slogans of the American tra- 
il in 1885 or :90s or 1925, the loudest voices in 

this chorus seem to come from the Right They sing a 
good deal more enthusiastically than (hey once did about 
Io>aRy and responsibility, they smg a little less confidently 
,r Ct ^ a ^ ?° d progress Tor the most part, however, 
Uiey prockum the trad.tion earnestly, and since the tradf- 
.. _ “ Sound 103 >* stiU about four parts Liberal- 

at«™ « P i art C T SC r at “ m * much of the case for conserv- 
A t' £ T * e ^guage of Jefferson rather than of 
mcnfor^ui C V “ St than S« S,ncc J 933 . many spokes- 
Npw . ',1 R ' S * sound 1 'ke so many Calvin Coohdges 
ideal inA Cr ? CCn *° Wld ° a S a P on Right between 

isitar be "’ ,d '™s - * comfort- 

pow 57w- S the fo llbcai pnnaples of the contem- 
S A l F? do our ***' to identify the men in 

handed A dlIS ma y seera to many a rather high- 

c^stn3 ^ g> 1 3m °° nfident men who mfde 
SSSLTv 01 the T""* ^ “Leftist" will not 
lee as nor. ° b,e f Ct L bems descn bed, quite without taal- 
MtZTT™? R ‘S ht A'lhoogh i, may aio .earn 
P 1 e undertakuig, I am convinced that there ex- 


tjonal democracy A handful of these Americans are full- 
blown, self-confessed authoritarians, even totalitanans, 
men who are outspokenly hostile to parliamentary govern- 
ment, capitalist enterprise, and the open society Whether 
they should be classed as Fascists is as much a problem 
in semantics as in political science, especially Since the 
best-known *, American Fascist,” Lawrence Dennis, always 
denied flatly that he was a Fascist and professed a number 
of undoubted libertarian principles None the less, we may 
cite his two most thoughtful books. The Coming American 
Fascism (1936) and The Dynamics of War and Revolu- 
tion ( 1940), as major statements of the case for the inevi- 
tability and necessity of government by an irresponsible 

Most American authoritarians, certainly all those I met 
in the course of my inquiry, are as quick with the slogans 
of old-fashioned Liberalism as any orator at a national con- 
vention Caught between antithetical beliefs— political 
authoritarianism and economic individualism — they have 
made their choice, in their minds if not in their viscera, for 
the latter They declare their allegiance to the whole 
American creed and rarely permit themselves to think con- 
sciously along authoritarian lines There Is a good deal of 
wisdom in Robert A Brady’s comment, “It is practically 
certain that if a coup d'etat ever comes in America from 
the right it will be advertised as a defense of democratic 
freedoms and a blow at Fascism ” It is equally certain that 
most of those implicated m the coup will believe what they 
say The question whether these men are Fascists might 
be answered in this way they are not now, but they might 
easily become so in an internal situation like that of 193a 
or an external one like that of 1938 While I agree with 
Harry Girvetz's observation, “There are many places in 
America which have harbored fascist tendencies, some of 
them as holy as the Shrine of the Little Flower, as high as 
the Tribune Towei, and as vast as San Simeon," I would 
insist that “fascist tendencies” are not Fascism, any more 
than “communist tendencies” are Co mmun ism In any 
case, it is safe to say that precious few Americans are now 
adherents of Fascism w any precise sense of this word. 


motion, we have all been vofang for a continuation and 
even expansion of his works for almost two decades 
I have lived and traveled much among the men on the 
American Right I have read scores of their books and hun- 
dreds of their articles, collected a large file of their edito- 
rials and letters, listened attentively to their orators at 
lunches and rallies, and clipped uncounted specimens of 
their musings from the appendix of the Congressional Rec- 
ord I have talked long and profitably with their willing 
spokesmen m all parts of the country and all v\ alks of hfe 
1 have visited more than two dozen offices of the organ- 
izations that attract their money and speak in their name, 
and in most of them I have been greeted with courtesy, 
instructed with candor, and loaded with still more litera- 
ture And having done all this, I am convinced that, in 
terms of their political attitudes, they fall with few excep- 
tions into several reasonably precise categories 

Before we list them, let me say again what I have said 
before the attempt to be taxonomic about the political 
attitudes of half a nation is a dangerous undertaking, one 
that can be justified only as the least delusive technique 
for plotting the contours of a largely unexplored area of 
American thought The reader is therefore begged to re- 
member that the line between any two of these categories 
is not a line but an imperceptible gradation, and that there 
are any number of variations within each category He 
should remember, too, that we are classifying men, not 
gall wasps Some Americans — the pure opportunists, for 
example have no principles and therefore defy this sort 
of classification Others have opinions so loose or eccentric 
or ill-conceived that they seem to fit with equal ease into 
any one of three or four slots Still others are more conserv- 
ative or liberal about some special concern like religion or 
civil rights than they are in their general outlook, and they, 
10 P m down Having issued this warning, 1 
offer this rough and empirical classification, which pro- 
ceeds from the Right extremity toward the center of the 
American political spectrum 

America, too, has its authontanans of the Right, its citi- 
zens who are not merely critics but enemies of consbtu- 


Although most inhabitants of the contemporary Bight 
are committed to individualism, only a few are consistent, 
thoroughgoing individualists, men who seem entirely will- 
ing to drive this doctnne straight through to its logical 
conclusion philosophical anarchy The father of this hardy 
band was Albert Jay Nock, whose Our Enemy, the State 
(i 935 ) and Memoirs of a Superfluous Mon (1943) 
preached a gospel of laissez-faire that was really Lussez- 
faire The best-known contemporary exponents of pure in- 
dividualism are John Chamberlain, who has about as much 
use for the state as did Jefferson or Sumner; Ayn Rand, 
whose novel The Fountainhead is a great favorite among 
young men who seek to soar on pinions free, and Frank 
Chodorov, whose One Is a Crowd (1952) is a near-an- 
archistic tract against the "iniquity” of the income tax 
and the * fraud” of Social Security Lest there be any doubt 
of the lengths to which Chodorov is willing to go in dis- 
mantling the apparatus of government, it should be noted 
that he applauds South Carolina's threat to abolish its pub- 
lic-school system "South Carolina has shown us the way 
that could lead us out of the clutches of Stabsm " 

It would be a fascinating exercise to probe the minds 
of Americans in each of these four categones This, how- 
ever, would direct attention away from the great body 
of conservatives and toward a collection of men and 
women who, taken altogether, cannot number much more 
than five per cent of the American Right I will make only 
one or two further comments on them first, they are not 
genuine conservatives, but either reactionaries shot full of 
the radicalism of fear and envy, reactionaries pure and 
simple, or opportunists in an age and country where 
anti-radicalism offers the best opportunities Next, only 
the second group, the professional haters, have had any 
real influence on the mind of conservative America, and 
this they have had by catering to the worst instincts of 
certain conservative citizens who should have known 
better Just as these traducers have been “fellow travelers 
of Fascism," so, it is painful to observe, have too many 
conservatives been their fellow travelers in hate and prej- 
udice Finally, rt seems clear whd® Fascvste. taA pro- 



which must be used with unfailing precision 

A much more suable number of Americans can be lo- 
cated in "the radical Right” The pseudo-conservatives, 
as they have been labeled by Richard Hofstadter, form a 
motley and deafening band of men and women who roam 
the outer reaches of American democracy and hurl their 
lances, usually dipped in the poison of racism, against the 
twin specters of “left-wing radicalism” and “spendthrift, 
subversive internationalism.” “Although they believe 
themselves to be conservatives” and often “employ the 
rhetoric of conservatism,” Hofstadter writes, they show 
signs of a serious and restless dissatisfaction with Amen- 
^®» traditions, and institutions ” While the choleric 
gnt has always been with us in America, seldom have 
professions! haters like Cerald L K Smith and Robert 
elch found so receptive an audience for their demagog* 
^ ‘*, a 'f n g made a good thing out of Senator McCar- 
ys “ght for Amenca," they have recently made an 
even better one out of Covemor Faubus’s "fight for the 
South In their political theology Earl Warren appears 
as a co-Satan of Frankhn D Roosevelt, as one learns in 
only five minutes with the literature of the shock troops 

peS^t*** ihe j° hn B,rch soc,et y 

third handful of men are taking special delight in an- 

0 er aspect of the present climate nostalgia. These are 
e pure traditionalists, the sentimental reactionaries, the 

men w o are sick, in Thomas Cook’s phrase, with “polib- 
th n ? cro P‘ u ^ a Enemies of change as well as of reform, 
y °ng m vain for the days of Webster and Washington 
in ge with emotion m ritualistic remembrance of 
, -. n ^ S M° st of them live m a state of acute cultural 
schizophrenia they enjoy many of the fruits of the twen- 

1 ^ Ut are shocked by the orchards that have 
h l * lem ^ ort h- It is virtually impossible to find an ar- 

r a , e s Pokesman for this tiny company, though people 
V f as haditionaLsts are scattered everywhere among 
““fortuoately, easy targets for the dema- 
° f the ra f JCal R ‘ght The incidence of pure tradi- 
Revnlnh ^ 0ns Daughters of the American 

Revolution is especially high 


Although most inhabitants of the contemporary Bight 
are committed to individualism, only a few are consistent, 
thoroughgoing individualists, men who seem entirely will- 
ing to dnve this doctrine straight through to its logical 
conclusion, philosophical anarchy The father of this hardy 
band was Albert Jay Nock, whose Our Enemy, the Stale 
( 1 935 ) and Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (1943) 
preached a gospel of laissez-faire that was really laissez- 
faire The best-known contemporary exponents of pure in- 
dividualism are John Chamberlain, who has about as much 
use for the state as did Jefferson or Sumner, Ayn Rand, 
whose noiei The Fountainhead is a great favorite among 
young men who seek to soar on pinions free, and Frank 
Chodorov, whose One Is a Crowd (195a) is a near-an- 
archistic tract against the "lniquitv” of the income tax 
and the “fraud" of Social Security Lest there be any doubt 
of the lengths to which Chodorov is willing to go m dis- 
mantling the apparatus of government, it should be noted 
that he applauds South Carolina's threat to abolish its pub- 
lic-school system “South Catohna has shown us the way 

. that could lead us out of the clutches of Stabsm ” 

It would be a fascinating exercise to probe the minds 
of Americans m each of these four categories This, how- 
ever, would direct attention away from the great body 
of conservatives and toward a collection of men and 
women who, taken altogether, cannot number much more 
than five per cent of the American Right, l will make only 
One or two further comments on them first, they are not 
genuine conservatives, but either reactionaries shot full of 
the radicalism of fear and envy, reactionaries pure and 
simple, or opportunists in an age and country where 
arm-radicalism offers the best opportunities Next, only 
the second group, the professional haters, have had any 
real influence on the mind of conservative America, and 
this they have had by catering to the worst instincts of 
certain conservabve citizens who should have known 
better Just as these traducers have been “fellow travelers 
of Fascism," so, it is painful to observe, have too many 
conservatives been theur fellow travelers in hate and prej- 
udice Finally, it seems dear that, vdvAa Fascists asvd pro- 



fessional haters (many of whom now pose as "Minute men") 
are so many cancers and boils on the body politic, tradi- 
tionalists and individualists have, in their own way, much 
to contribute to the diversity of American life. 

Most men on the contemporary Right may be placed in 
one of three major categories, each of which counts its oc- 
cupants in millions Here, in particular, we have a mean- 
ing ul criterion for rough classification the relative will- 
mgness of each group to accept the burdens of the New 
Economy (the domesticated New Deal described m the 
republican platforms of 1956 and i960) and the New 
emabonalism (the bipartisan commitments to active 
membership in UN and NATO, and to economic aid to 
underdeveloped countries) 

The late Senator Wheny liked to describe himself as a 
J^i Tr nlabSt> ’ and were **“» word not used generally 
en y certain Protestant sects, it might well serve as 
e m°s accurate one-word description of the ultra-con - 
l ? es ‘ dl0se millions of Americans whose political 
, T. ,j° f 15 j" extraordlnar y mixture of sober conservatism, 
j , S ^ paltlsm ' and ongry reacbon (a mixture ren- 
_ a j e ven P 10 ™ extraordmary by a careless penchant for 
Amen ^ whose pohbcal program is an 

American vers, on of what France has come To know as 
CCnTJ eSSenbalI y middle-class revolt agamst the 
are inor, ° a ^ ahon ’ and agamst the uses to which taxes 
diversity PUt m 1116 welfare state T 1 * 6 Slze and 

conservah B “ unti y make it cert am that many ultra- 
over the r, CS iT 1 ^ pei P etua ' odds with one another 
S i w ^ “« ° f “ who s ets what, when, how" 
Dakota (a 3 °^ dlem California housewife, a North 
tor none nP < ^ uca S° banker, and a New York doc- 
T . W0Uld have “ uch for any of the 
legacy and all° I “ Ve even ,ess for ^ Roosevelt 

New Ded mt0 . - d ““ le U ’ 5 

m % s 

°° " d Bn, “ "Eer. u, the <My p„ ss by the Chi- 



cago Tribune and the Hearst papers, among periodicals 
by The Freeman and (although they may not always 
understand its mordant wit) the National Review, on the 
radio by Fulton Lewis, jr , and in the pulpit by the Rev 
James W Fifield, among book publishers by Henry 
Regnery, Devm-Adair, and the Caxton Press, and in the 
held of "public education” by the American Enterprise 
Association and Americans for Constitutional Action H L 
Hunt is their Maecenas, Governor Bracken Lee their tax- 
resisting Pym (or Pouyade), Vivien Kellems thtir Diana, 
Senator McCarthy their defunct Galahad, William F 
Bucldey, jr, their favonte Yaleman, Joseph M Mitchell 
their ideal bureaucrat, Edwin A Walker their “model of 
a modem major general,” the Intercollegiate Society of 
Individualists and Young Americans for Freedom their 
weapons for smashing "the tyranny of campus collectiv- 
ism,” General MacArthur the one man of the old generation 
they would have been happy with as President, Senator 
Goldwater the one man of the new generation to whom 
they seem willing to give the same land of impassioned al- 
legiance Since men of their stripe can often be better known 
by thur enemies than by their fnends, we might take brief 
note of the most thoroughly disliked characters, living 
and dead, m the rogues gallery of ultra-conservatism 
Franklin D Roosevelt, John Dewey, Walter Reuther, 
Alger Hiss, Eleanor Roosevelt, Arthur Schlesinger, jt, 
Adam Clayton Powell, Paul Hoffman, John Kenneth Gal- 
braith, and Robert M Hutchins At one extreme, in the 
form of an organization like the respectable Foundation 
for Economic Education, the ultra-conservatives merge 
effortlessly into the great middle group of conservatives 
At the other, m the form of an organization like Alien 
Zoll's National Council for American Education or Carl 
Mclntire’s American Council of Christian Churches, they 
become so harsh and malevolent as to be fellow travelers 
of Fascism Indeed, it is men like loU, Mclntire, and 
Edgar C Bundy, a small but ear-sphttmg fraction of the 
American people, who are out-agitatmg the Left in pro- 
viding “the d ) oaifflc oi dissent" in America today Their 
brand of dissent, Richard Hofstadter remarks, "is not as 


powerful as the liberal dissent of the New Deal era, but 
it is powerful enough to set the tone of our political life 
and to establish throughout the country a hind of puni- 
tive reaction" — and not exclusively in Southern California 
Although many authors and pamphleteers who wnte 
for the journals of ultra-conservatism may resent being 
tagged even gently in this way — some insisting that they 
were pure individualists, others that they were “conserva- 
tive radicals” or “old-fashioned liberals,” still others that 
they refused to be pached m an ideological box — 1 think 
it helpful to list a few of the publicists, several of tbem no 
longer living, who are especially popular among ultra- 
conservative Americans John T Flynn, James Burnham, 
John Chamberlain, Russell Kirk, William F Buckley, jr , 
Frank S Meyer, Clarence Manion, Norman Beasley, 
Felix Morley, Willmoore Kendall, E Memll Root, Leon- 
ard Read, George Sokolsky, John Dos Passos, Whittaker 
Chambers, Raymond Moley, Hajold Lord Varney, Max 
Eastman, Westbrook Pegler, Chesly Manly, Samuel B 
PettengiQ, Louis Bromfield, Victor Lasky, Ralph de To- 
Iedano, David Lawrence, Anthony Bouscaren, Freda 
Utley, Caret Garrett, and J B Matthews Another group 
of men who are hard to place, yet fit here as comfortably 
as anywhere, are the unreconstructed classical econo- 
mists Fred R Fairchild, Henry Hazlitt, Willford I King, 
F A Harper, William A Paton, Walter £ Spahr, and 
those two eminent Americans-by-adopbon, Ludwig von 
Mises and F A Hayek Enc Voegehn, Wilhelm Ropke, 
and Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn are other European intel- 
lectuals who find favor among more thoughtful ultra- 

This is, to be sure, a thoroughly mixed bag of writing 
and preaching talents The gap between Kirk and Cham- 
berlain in doctrine, between Eastman and Pegler in taste, 
or between Meyer and Matthews in intellectual power is 
an immense one, and the wonder is that there is not more 
sectarianism among these critics on the Right What closes 
the gap, bnngs all these men together, and gives them so 
receptive an audience among ultra-conservatives through- 
out the land is their common antipathy, strong to the 



point of loathing, for the New Economy and the New 
Internationalism However different the roads they have 
traveled in their minds and consciences, they are now 
camped together in a slough of disgust for the raemoiy 
and achievements of Franklin D Roosevelt 

Much the largest of our three major categories contains 
what we may properly call the middling conservatives 
Former President Hoover and Senator Byrd are located 
somewhere near one boundary of this group, former Gov- 
ernor Dewey and Richard M Nixon somewhere near the 
other hi the center stood — and for our purposes still 
stands — the veiy model of the American conservative, the 
late Senator Taft Close beside him, much closer than 
many people seem to realize, stands Dwight D Eisen- 
hower Oddly enough, considering the numbers, convic- 
tion, and wealth of the conservative Americans, there are 
few newspapers, magazines, commentators, or books 
that do their cause justice Although then sentiments may 
be sampled in the editorials of the Saturday Evening 
Post and Life, brochures of the United States Chamber 
of Commerce, writings of men like Clarence B Randall 
of Inland Steel and Henry M Wnston of Brown, and some 
of the more mellow of the musmgs of Robert Moses, they 
have very little to say in their own behalf They seem 
equally willing to nod assent to the uncompromising stric- 
tures of those to their right and to the temperate judg- 
ments of those to their immediate left Lacking a battery 
of columnists who express their middle-of-the-road opin- 
ions, stall sufficiently angry at the New Deal to take de- 
light in hearing it smote hip and thigh, hardly knowing 
their own moderate minds, they are as likely to applaud 
Flynn as Lippmann, as willing to be instructed by Sokol- 
sky as bv John K Jessup They have even let the ultra- 
conservatives steal Senator Taft from their keeping The 
purpose of these men seems to be to brake, but certainly 
not to reverse, our movements toward welfare and regula- 
tion at home and toward aid and affiance abroad They 
are generally able to keep their own urges toward pou. 
jadisme under control 

The third kind of conservative finds his natural hakit^ 


on tho Atlantic seaboard and In the advance guard of the 
Republicans, though he may also be found scattered 
through the countiy and in the Democratic party It u 
hard to say exactly what sets off liberal conservatives 
from middling conservatives, but certainly their actions 
and ideas seem more flexible, thoughtful, and chan table 
than those of other men on tho Right They are less in- 
clined to weep tears over the last two decades and more 
inclined to recognize professors and union leaders as use- 
ful fellow citizens, less concerned to balance the budget 
and more concerned to stimulate economic growth. They 
have taken up the burdens of the New Economy and the 
New Internationalism with no apparent reluctance, and 
often with considerable enthusiasm In Walter Lippmann, 
Arthur Larson, and August Heckscher they are blessed 
with ablo publicists, in Arthur F Bums, Milton Fried- 
man, and Henry C Walhch with equally able economists, 
in Earl Warren, John McCloy, Paul Hoffman, Clifford 
Case, Charles P Taft, John Sherman Cooper, and Nelson 
Rockefeller with impressive public figures, m the great 
foundations with powerful instruments for imaginative 
conservatism, in the Committee for Economic Develop- 
ment with an educational agency quite unique in ob- 
jectivity, m Fortune, the New York Times, and the New 
York Herald Tribune with organs that hold the respect 
of most of the nation, and in Charles Evans Hughes and 
Henry L Stimson with two saintly models of their brand 
of conservatism Liberal conservatives are not uniformly 
loved for their attempts to make “Tory democracy” a 
vital force on the American scene To ultra-conservatives 
they appear as "just another bunch of New Dealers,” to 
many progressives as “the opportunists of Wall Street 
and Madison Avenue” 

Although any man m any one of these three major 
groups may stray off the reservation on an issue hke the 
recognition of Red China or the tariff or civil ngbts, it »S 
possible, I am convinced, to predict specific attitudes on 
current issues in four cases out of five In the area of for- 
eign policy, most ultra-conservatives are ultra-nabonal- 
ists, most middling conservatives are nationalists tom be- 


tween conflicting desires, most liberal conservatives are 
nationalists with distinct internationalist leanings 
Thus ultra-conservatives are outspokenly hostile to 
the U N , would like to put an end to “squandering our 
treasure abroad" (especially on the “so-called neutral 
nations'), still consider the Bncker amendment (to cut 
down the President’s power over treaties and executive 
agreements) “a matter of life and death for the Repub- 
lic,” and want as little as possible to do with “godless 
Russia * Middling conservatives are uneasy about the 
U N but think there is no choice but to stay in, would 
like to reduce foreign spending sharply, would not be 
averse to the passage of a diluted version of the Bncker 
amendment, and are prepared to deal at arm’s length 
with the Russians Liberal conservatives support the U N 
with scarcely abated enthusiasm, are prepared to mam- 
tarn a high level of foreign spending, hope that the Bncker 
amendment (that “dangerous innovation”) js dead and 
buried, and are ready to go again and again to the Summit 
to test the latest intentions of the Russians Lest we pas* 
by a memorable issue that is dead, if not exactly buned 
and the memorable demagogue with whom it died, of 
Senator McCarthy the ultra-conservative said proudly, 
“That’s my boy!,” the middling conservative uneasily* 
"Joe is a little rough, but he gets results,” the hbtraj 
conservative queasily, “He’s a disgrace to American de- 
mocracy and a disaster to American prestige ” 

In the area of domestic policy, ultra-conservatives 
only oppose any further social legislation but call for the 
scrapping of many agencies and programs, especially 
those that do them no specific service Middling eonserva. 
hves will consider social legislation that others propose 
and though they are likely to react as angrily as ever at 
any mention of the New Deal, they seem entirely wilW 
to leave the New Deal agencies in operation Liber a j 
conservatives make counterproposals to the promises 0 f 
the Left and accept the new dimensions m government 
with little rancor or regret Some^of them^have beejj 
known to say kind words for the purposes if not the 
"methods” of Mr Roosevelt 



Thus ultra-conservatives are ready, at least by their 
own testimony, to dissolve TVA, reduce the scope and 
generosity of Social Security, walk around (or deny the 
existence of) the problem of civil rights, laugh off the 
problem of economic growth, and fight any proposal to 
improve the nation’s health as “socialized medicine" An 
astounding number of them are eager to repeal or delimit 
the Sixteenth Amendment and return, no matter what 
tho cost, to the Gold Standard. Middling conservative* 
are willing to tolerate T V A. while cutting it* appropna- 
bons, leave Social Security untouched except for "more 
businesslike methods of operation," consider gingerly— 
and only under immense pohbcal pressure — a toothless 
bill for improving civil rights, study if not act decisively 
upon the problem of economic growth, and let the dead 
dog of “socialized medicine" he dead in the street They, 
too, would like lower taxes and harder money but do not 
favor schemes to return our tax structure and monetary 
policy to the permissive patterns of happier days Liberal 
conservatives are prepared to defend T V A , expand the 
coverage of Social Security, enact civil-rights legislation 
with at least a few teeth, tale prudent steps to speed up 
the rate of economic growth, and sponsor bills that en- 
courage voluntary health-insurance programs or sustain 
the medical schools Proposals to repeal or amend the 
Sixteenth Amendment and return to the Gold Standard 
they regard as irresponsible pipe dreams 

Many of this third group feel closer to moderates of 
the Left than to ultxa-conservabveS of the Right They 
have reason to deny that they are on the Right at all. The 
ultra-conservatives, who brand them scornfully as "roe- 
tooers " are happy to hear them deny it The issue of 
segregation m the public schools of the South is driving 
these two groups even farther apart Ultra-conservatives 
in the North have been surprisingly quick to come to 
the defense of Senator Eastland’s way of life, surprisingly 
savage in their attacks on Chief Justice Warren’s Court. 
Liberal conservatives find the antics of the white South 
increasingly hard to tolerate 


Which of these major groups, we are now bound to ask, 
has the most plausible claim to identification as the hard 
core of American conservatism? The answer to this ques- 
tion can be found in the answer to a more searching ques- 
tion to what extent does each fulfil the histone conserva- 
tive mission? Which, for example, is most successful in 
defending our established order? Which contributes most 
effectively to the spirit of unity among Americans? Which 
does most to steady the onward course of a progressive 
nation? A process of elimination points inexorably, in my 
opinion, to the middling group, to the Taft-Eisenhower 

The ultra-conservatives, despite their deeply conserva- 
tive urges, must be counted out of this particular search, 
for most of them have fallen unwitting prey to two fad- 
ings against which conservatives must be constantly on 
guard first, an inability to accept gracefully social and 
economic changes that have been firmly established in a 
successful way of life, especially changes in which mil- 
lions of their fellow citizens have a sizable stake, second, 
a weakness for arguments and methods that unravel the 
bonds of social unity 

On the first count, ultra-conservatives must be adjudged 
reactionaries, for m their indignation over the trends of 
the past quarter-century they are seeking purposefully to 
roll back the social process to 1948 or 1932 or even, if 
we can believe what some of them say, to 1896 On the 
second count, they must be adjudged radicals However 
pure their motives and sound their purposes, they are 
dabbling dangerously in a form of radicalism in their 
mama for amending the Constitution, their reckless as- 
saults on the Presidency and Supreme Court, their wistful 
plans for a new party, their contempt for the whole struc- 
ture of social-welfare legislation, their cavalier attitude 
toward freedom of dissent, and their careless cult of ex- 
treme individualism Men who engage in this sort of po- 
litical immoderation cannot be classed as genuine con- 
servatives Whatever else it was, McCarthyism was not 
conservatism, and ultra-conservatives, by their own proud 
admission, were the most loyal soldiers in McCarthy’s 



ranks The demagoguery of the Right is no more akin to 
upright conservatism than the demagoguery of tho Left 
is to decent liberalism, and too many ultra-conservatives 
have shown themselves much too willing to forgive, to 
encourage, and often even to practice the disruptive arts 
of pseudo-conservative extremism 

It might repay us to pause for a moment to look upon 
the most outspoken of ultra-conservatives, William F 
Buckley, jr, for the thrust of his intense convictions lays 
bare in starkest form the crucial dilemma of modem 
Amencan conservatism That thrust, which is on exhibi- 
tion in three amazing books and bi-weekly in the National 
Review , is directed vigorously against the New Ortho- 
doxy that has grown up all about us In the last several 
generations, and Buckley is so explicitly critical about 
what he believes to be the sinister elements m this ortho- 
doxy that he finds himself at odds with much of American 
society Since he is equally (and indeed refreshingly) 
explicit about the elements in his own and, as he thinks, 
traditionally Amencan orthodoxy, the dimensions of this 
conflict are easily grasped In his wntings he sets up a 
senes of stnet dichotomies— collectiv ism and individual- 
ism, centralization and states nghts. Presidential leader- 
ship and Congressional supremacy, populism and elitism, 
secularism and pietism, moral relativism and moral abso- 
lutism, secunty and liberty, mass culture and the genteel 
tradition, internationalism and isolationism, scientism and 
scholasticism, progressive education and old-fashioned 
P a g°gy, democracy and republicanism, “softness" on 
ommunism and “hard” an b- Communism, above all "Lib- 
eralism and Conservatism”— and he leaves no doubt that 
e first item m each of these conflicting pairs is a curse 
mat must be rooted out of Amencan existence, the second 
the tool with which to do the rooting It is not, let it be 
noted the collectivism or the centralization or the mass cul- 
ol the future that he detests so vigorously, but the evi- 
enees of these trends and conditions that have been part 
ol our lives for years It is not the radical liberals” like 
senator Humphrey and Walter Reuther, the paladins of 
reform, who rouse him to real anger, but the conserva- 


bve "liberals' like Dwight D Eisenhower and Richard 
Nixon, the preachers of unity at the price of principle 
In fairness to Buckley, I must insist that the logic of his 
ideas cannot be fully understood except by those who 
read him for themselves These few paragraphs are in no 
sense to be taken as an attempt to present those ideas fully 
or even equitably They are, rather simply, an attempt 
to point out the unsettling fact that a large wing o m - 
em American conservatism, of which Buckley is e 
most eloquent and persistent voice, is not at all content 
to be simply and intuitively “conservative, that it has 
made no peace with the apparently well-established de- 
velopments of the past half-century, and that its settled 
aim seems to be to restore a past rather than to conserve 
a present— with which, in truth, it is not one bit happier 
than all but the most truculent American radicals This 
fact of untable dissatisfaction with the American way of 
life presents a dilemma to the ultra-conservatives them- 
selves, to the conservatives who seel only p^ce 

and older, and indeed to all who are engag m e gr 

Amencan debate The -conservabsm" of BucUey and ha 
friends has become too angry, restoraboms * 
were, rnrionnl to be ,odged and heated as an ythin g but 
"radicalism of the Right.* It a, one of its 
fas desenbed rt adtmrmgly, lively with the lof levo- 
lobon -and dins no km to the consenatam of Bnrle 
or Adams or ' Webster «««» * ^ for ^ 

A somewhat better ease oa 
bony of the conservabsm of roIlEdmdy „ 

many of whom can quote ® d , 0 pt „ucal sense a 

To^ Hot to be = ° and not ,ust thrnk 

man must behave like a cons' ^ „ , 0 beyond 
and speak him one There a ^ ccoaoaae , dorms 

which a man can pushfcn^ u ^..dered a con- 
only by surrendering CUIonJ Case should 

serauve A liberal If conseratism for 

he sainted respectfully ^oernt Amenca of 
ha important rolo tn rem 5 oI hutory, but 

the frailty of human kli ,tcpr into the futum 

he is much too willing to i 



to bo called a conservative in practical politics. So, too, 
u a moderate Democrat liko Adlai Stevenson 1 do not 
think that we aro playing with words when wo say that 
most men in this category aro conservative liberals rather 
than liberal conscrvativ cs, II they arc, as some of them 
have asserted m their search lor self-identity, "Tory demo- 
crats, Amcncan-st) Ic," they aro so much more clearly 
democrats than Tones in mood and purpose that we axe 
bound to banish many of them, politely to be sure, be- 
yond the palo of American conservatism. While the ultra- 
conservatives may bo unadjusted to the new order of 
Franklin D Roosevelt, the liberal conservatives aro much 
too well adjusted 

In the end it seems clear, the middling conservatives 
have come closest of all to a position of practical conserva- 
tism that bears some relation to the compelling conditions 
of Amcncau life Tho policies of Eisenhower and Taft, 
and of those who carry on their work, havo been and re- 
mam profoundly conservative in purpose, for they am 
aimed squarely at preserving a successful way of life, 
conservative in method, for they steer a prudent course 
between too much progress, which throws us into turmoil, 
and too little, which is an impossiblo state for Americans 
to endure, and conservative in influence, for they honor 
the highest mission of conservatism — to foster the spirit 
of unity among men of all classes and callings By accept- 
ing the burdens of tho New Economy and the New In- 
ternationalism — without at tho same time reveling m 
them and shouting for more — the middling conservatives, 
muddled though their thoughts and their attempts at self- 
description may often be, have proved themselves to be 
neither reactionaries nor liberals They, of all men, are 
camped most comfortably in that section of the American 
political arena reserved for conservatives Ultra-conserva- 
tives and radicals would seem to agree that they are 
camped much too comfortably It is hard to think of a 
single judgment about America today in which Buckley 
and C Wright Mills would join unreservedly— except 
that this sector (often described as “the middle of the 


road”) is paved with complacency This is a judgment 
with which it is hard to disagree 

We must not, I repeat, put too much trust in the pre- 
cision of these categories, nor be too cavalier in placing 
Americans in one or another of them Yet I must confess to 
have been struck forcibly in my own dealings with the men 
of the Right and Center at the way in which they seem to 
divide on all kinds of issues into “maladjusted,” “un- 
adjusted,” “adjusted," and "over-adjusted” conservatives 
It is not just their positions on the political problems we 
have mentioned, and on other persistent problems like 
states rights and labor legislation, that help to spot them 
It is also their reactions to social and cultural affairs — to 
new trends in art, music, poetry, and architecture, to 
the social-welfare activities of churches, above all to the 
methods and purposes of American education The man 
who bursts into flames at the name of Franklin D Roose- 
velt will also bum at the names (if he recognizes them at 
all) of Jackson Pollock, Aaron Copland, e e cummings, 
Frank Lloyd Wnght, G Bromley Oxnam, and John 

We must also not be too upset if some of the men and 
women we have sought to pm down wriggle free of our 
grasp 1 have tned, in effect, to prove that Senator Salton- 
stall is a more genuine conservative than either Senator 
Goldwater to his right or Senator Case to his left, but I 
would be the last to deny the freedom of both these esti- 
mable gentlemen to dispute the issue And what is true 
of them must be true of all who think the way they do 
One of the few uneroded rights of modem Americans is 
to call themselves whatever they wish 

One group of Americans remains to be accounted for 
the “mactionanes” of whom C Wright Mills has written 
not without hyperbole, in his White Collar These are the 
people of the new middle classes — and there may well be 
millions of them — who are “politically alienated” They 
are neither conservative, radical, nor liberal, they are, m 
Mills’s phrase, "out of it,” becauso of mass indifference 
and bureaucratized politics While this Is not the place to 
discuss the White Collar thesis, it should he recalled 


that indifference, ignorance, and inaction are ingredients 
of a prevalent type of practical conservatism, that there 
can ba a “ lumpen bourgeoisie” as well as a “lumpen pro* 
letanat” It seems certain that at present the millions of 
Americans who live a-pohtical lives are more likely to 
react favorably, if they react at all, to the slogans and sym- 
bols of the conservative Right than to those of the liberal 

We come now to the most critical task of this entire study 
to state, with maximum accuracy and minimum aspersion, 
the political principles of modem American conservatism 
The principles 1 shall desenbe are those that animate the 
middle group of conservatives Specifically, they are the 
best thoughts of the late Senator Taft, surely the key 
figure of the modem Right, and of Presidents Eisenhower 
and Hoover To most of these both ultra-conservatives 
and liberal conservatives would agree, differing from one 
another and from the middle group on such points as the 
role of government and the sanctity of private property 
Their differences in political thought are largely differ- 
ences m emphasis 

With the exception of a few professors and publicists, 
who are looked upon with suspicion for their pains, the 
men on the Right are not given to hard thinking about 
man, society, and government Many times I have asked 
an able, articulate man of affairs in the ranks of middling 
conservatism to state his opinions on liberty or equality 
or natural law, and have been turned aside by a slogan, 
a truism, or a frank confession of ignorance or indifference 
enator Taft himself, when pressed for a statement of his 
philosophy, is said to have replied “There are some ques- 
tions that I haven’t thought very much about" The pnn- 
cip es of American conservatism are not thoughts or re- 
ecbons or hypotheses, they are assumptions, prejudices, 
myths, vague longings, and slogans Modem American 
conservatism has no Burke or Adams, I have heard its 
enhes argue cogently that it has no philosophy I say all 
s as a truth I have come to reluctantly, not as a libel 
that I was anxious to prove from the start 


The contemporary Right remains remarkably steadfast 
in its devotion to laissez-faire conservatism The Indian 
summer that set in with the American Liberty League has 
still some distance to iiin If the faith of the Right is some- 
what less laissez-faire and somewhat more conservative 
than that proclaimed by Sumner, Carnegie, and Field, it 
has nevertheless changed sujpnsmgly little m tins chang- 
ing world While the position of men like Taft, Hoover, 
and Eisenhower on the American political spectrum may 
certainly be labeled “conservative,” they defend this 
position largely with the bright words of liberalism 
President Hoover is not to be laughed at for his dogged 
insistence that he is a “true Liberal," nor President Eisen- 
however for having proclaimed himself “basically a pro- 
gressive ” Liberalism and progressivisun are built into the 
tradition these eminent men are bent on conserving, and 
in this country, I repeat, a man may still describe himself 
as he sees fit Whatever the label on the package, these 
are the contents 

The conservative view of man is expressed in a con 
fusion of slogans, of which about two thirds are traceable 
to Jefferson and one third to Adams On one hand, there 
is still much talk of men who are basically good, decent, 
trustworthy, and rational, and who may improve them- 
selves and their natures almost without limit if properly 
educated and exhorted On the other, there is a deep- 
rooted assumption, announced publicly only by the most 
fearless or truculent conservatives, that weakness, lazi- 
ness, cruelty, and wickedness may be found in all men to 
some degree and in many men to a decisive degree 
Further, human nature is "pretty much the same every- 
where” and is “never going to be changed by law * 
Americans are better than other men because they live In 
a happier environment, but even under the most favor- 
able conditions the dolt, the criminal, and the ne’er-do- 
well will be found in distressing numbers While the im- 
provement of a man’s character is a long, hard process, he 
may be CGmipted and degraded in the twinkling of an 


The conservative mind is also at odds with itself over 
the hey question of big democracy that of the ordinary 
man s capacity for sound political decisions Conservatives 
love to extol the “infinite wisdom of the plain people of 
this country” but nine times out of ten this comes as a 
sort of conditioned response to an assertion of special 
knowledge or expert judgment by a public figure on the 
Left I am inclined to agree with Duncan Norton-Taylor s 
observation that Senator Taft was "instinctively pessimis- 
tic about people m the mass,” and thus to assert that most 
leading conservatives are skeptical about the political 
widom and rationality of the average American 
On several points, however, there is little disagreement 
among conservatives With President Eisenhower they 
believe that “the nerve and fiber” of our way of life is a 
sovereign faith in the freedom and dignity of the 
individual, thus maintaining then- strong bias toward in- 
dividualism With Senator Taft they believe that ‘the 
whole history of America reveals a system based on in- 
lvidual opportunity, individual initiative, individual 
reedom to earn one’s living in one’s own way," thus 
maintaining their peculiar interest in the economic aspects 
o doctrine The old virtues of industry and frugality 
ve never ranked so high in conservabv e favor, and self- 
reliance in the pracbce of these virtues is sbll held to be 
e one sure road to individual freedom and nabonal well- 
mg ew conservatives would quesbon Leonard Read’s 
assertion that responsibility for one’s self is the most im- 
portant possession of man " And although Read, like most 
conservabves is strong for “the kindly virtues in human 
ons such as tolerance, charity, good sportsmanship 
• mutual trust, voluntary co-operabon, and jusbce,” 
^ 2 . e eve *' a g ain hke most conservabves, that prog- 

U e r€su *t of intense compebbon among acquisibve 
and ambitious men “Hardship and struggle” continue to 
.v ^ an important part in the American conservabve's 
ineo'y of human relabons Whether he is a "good sport” 
81 Shter, the ideal man in conservahve doctrine 
mains upright, self-reliant, and industrious An mcteas- 
g number of conservabves are coming to suspect that 


many of their fellow citizens are not now and never can 
be tins kind of man 

The modem Rightist, like his grandfather, is all m favor 
of equality, but he, too, defines equality in his own way. 
When he uses this word, he means equality of opportu- 
nity that spurs the march of progress by inviting each man 
to rise to the level of his energies and abilities, not equal- 
ity of position and possession enforced against nature's 
will by a meddling government In short, the conservative 
continues to justify the inequalities all about him, and also 
to fight attempts to reduce them, with the Liberal ideal 
of equality 

Now, smce men are sharply unequal, according to Sen- 
ator Taft, in “mental power," "character," and "energy," 

they will— under the equal protection of the laws nse 

to sharply unequal levels of power and property That 
these "levels" are in fact "classes" is an almost universal 
conservative assumption I say "assumption" because few 
conservatives are so "un-American" as to dtly the un- 
spoiled Liberal tradition by talking of class and status 
Raymond Moley, for instance, insists that “the principle 
of a classless society dominates the mind and spirit of the 
American nation " It is more likely that what dominates 
the mind and spirit of the nation, especially of its conserv- 
ative half, is the principle of a casteless, not classless so- 
ciety Let me repeat and embellish what we learned m 
Chapter III the concept of class, American style, h e , 
deep in the conservative’s mind and shapes far more of 
his social outlook and political practice than he is generally 
prepared to admit For example, a basic assumption of 
current conservative thinking is that there is something 
big and wonderful and enduring called the middle clay * 
in whose keeping rests the future of the Republic ’ 

I have searched the spoken and written opinions of tf, 
contemporary Right for clear-cut statements of the ne J 
for an aristocracy and have been struck by the 
of the few I have been able to collect Although con* 
h ves like to say that the "best men should occu p 
seats of economic and political power, they are vap,, 6 
about the qualities such men should possess, th e 



and discretion they should wield, or the privileges they 
should enjoy as their reward. The conservative is still the 
willing prisoner of the American tradition, he cannot 
bnng himself to speak out boldly and consistently for a 
ruling, guiding, serving aristocracy, even of the “natural” 
variety. Nothing so candid and useful os tbo Gospel of 
Wealth enjoys a hold on the present majority of conserva- 
tive Americans, and tho doctrine of noblesse oblige is 
something for a Taft and Saltonstall, or Roosevelt and 
5teycn$on a t0 honor in practice but not to justify in theory 
Liberty remains tho favonto topic of conservative 
orators and focal point of conservative dunking For the 
most part, the modem conservative defends it in tho spirit 
ot laissez-faire conservatism, but with these interesting 
shifts in approach or emphasis 

Fmt, ho define, tberty ciu J us „ely di economic 
er ™ se€m * more concerned than his grandfather 
"nth tho freedoms of speech, press, and worship, the right 
o» free elections, and the great judicial safeguards At 
e same time, he condemns the campaign to raise those 
new ng ts which the stato may be persuaded to under- 
e same kvcl of sanctity as those eternal nghti 

« i , su " u b ° m,d •» "»A 

e 1 es * to say about property and practically noth- 
g a out contract Too much concern with the former is 
apparen y considered bad form and worse politics, and 
* ^ soa aI reform and constitutional law has 
a r,V . e ^ tter a dead issue. Raymond Molcy is not 
. , aS j C | t . t * ,at P ro perty is a distinct nght ranking 
_ rn , 6 and Lb «rty, nor was Arthur Ballon tine to justify 
Lf? 85 man „ S c}uef defense agamst the all-embracing 
hv<* at I Ono ma y even come upon a conserva- 

h r d ; blt , ten as J ud S« Arthur C Shepard of Cah- 

n 5 ? bai , 1,115 to sa 7 » Atbonlco Aladna Irri- 
gation District (1951) 

diff^ ate ? 1 / n,S tbat P erson al rights axe supenor to or 
sonlwL r0n ! P ro P ert y rights are so much rhetorical 

* P e ' e S"'“ t, “ ° f 



The average conservative, however, prefers to merge 
the defense of property and of other economic rights 
with that of all the great liberties By asserting his belief 
in the "indivisibility of man’s many freedoms,” he bnngs 
free elections to the support of property and free speech 
to the support of free enterprise General Eisenhower 
expressed this belief m a celebrated speech to the Ameri- 
can Bar Association m 1949 

All our freedoms — personal, economic, social, po- 
litical — freedom to buy, to work, to hire, to bargain, 
to save, to vote, to worship, to gather m a convention 
or join in mutual association, all these freedoms are 
a single bundle Each is an indispensable part of a 
single whole Destruction of any inevitably leads to 
the destruction of alL 

This notion — the “bundle of freedoms” — is increasingly 
popular among conservative orators It should be noted 
that most sticks m the bundle appear to be economic in 

Third, he talks more of his nghts as a legacy from gen- 
erations of patriots than as a gift of Cod or nature In the 
blunt words of Senator Byrd 

We should always remember that human freedom 
is not a gift to man, it is an achievement by man 
. . gamed by vigilance and struggle 

He is inclined — and in this inclination appears more 
truly conservative — to assert with Russell Clinchy “Re- 
sponsibility and freedom are the reverse sides of the same 
coin Neither can exist independently of the other" For 
example, the thoughtful conservative is likely to greet 
broad assertions of academic freedom with pointed ques- 
tions about academic responsibility. 

Finally, he has given some ground under the pressures 
of the age of anxiety and now admits that government 
can act positively m defense and elaboration of "the great- 
est of all rights— -the right to equal opportunity " While 
he still denies, except perhaps when running for office in 
an industrial state, that there is such a thing as the right 
to a job," ho will acknowledge, unless he is a totally uq. 



reconstructed individualist, the truth of this assertion of 
Senator Flanders “The man out of work has the right 
to expect that all responsible elements of society, and 
particularly the government, will use all appropriate and 
effective means to assist his own best efforts in finding 
productive and profitable work.” Yet if this man can ex- 
pect society to find him work, society can expect him to 
do it diligently and productively 

If liberty is the conservative’s delight, security is his 
despair The good works of the New Deal and rosy prom- 
ises of the Fair Deal have brought an unreasoning dislike 
of security into conservative thinking While liberal 
conservatives seek manfully to understand the conditions 
and motives that impel the "quest for security ,” most men 
on the Right regard the quest as a mania that threatens 
to subvert our tradition of personal freedom and respon- 
sibility The substance of their inner convictions on this 
explosive question is caught in three quotations The 
first, from the bps of Dwight D Eisenhower, is the angry 
cry of “the old-fashioned American" who finds himself 
among his own kind and bursts out almost without think- 

If all that Americans want is security, then they 
can go to prison 

The second, from the pen of Vannevar Bush, is the 
measured warning of the hard-headed intellectual who 
remembers that America is the rich payoff to a succession 
of gambles 

A passion for personal security is an opiate which 
tends to destroy the vinle characteristics which have 
made us great 

The third, from the heart of Senator Taft, is the candid 
conservative s formula for widespread security 

If liberty prevails unimpaired, everyone who de- 
serves security will have security 
If liberty prevails unimpaired” — if a man can work 
an sacnfice and save without the nagging intervention 
ot an officious government— he will win the only kind of 


security that is really secure- the land he wins for and by 
himself Many men simply do not “deserve” security, and 
no government can give it to them for any length of time 
without dulling their spirits, undercutting its own sol- 
vency, and looting the pockets of other men who have 
sought to provide security for themselves 

We may account for much of the conservative rage 
against security if we recognize that security is the new 
label for equality and recall that equality is the old enemy 
of liberty The conservative remains true to the anti-level- 
mg principles of his ancestors when he questions the pur- 
poses and consequences of the welfare state Yet, ever a 
Liberal American, he attacks the proposals of the new 
levelers by branding them "grants of special privilege" or 
‘‘designs for inequality" 

While the modem conservative has moved away from 
the severe anti-stabsm of Sumner and Sutherland and to- 
ward the balanced attitude of Wilson and Hughes he has 
moved much farther in fact than be has in theory While 
he supports a whole range of government activities that 
would have struck the conservative of 1900 as the rank- 
est land of socialism, he continues to talk as if no good and 
much evil could be expected of them Except for these 
changes in mood or emphasis, the modem conservative 
remains true to laissez-faire opinions of the nature and 
purpose of government 

His persistent anb-stahsm is expressed as hostility not 
to government as such, but to '"big” government or “cen- 
tralized" government or “bureaucracy" While be grudg- 
ingly concedes a larger role to government, he applauda 
the observation of Clarence Manion 

A swelling is one of the infallible signs of a sickness 
underneath, and the swelling of government in 
America today merely evidences the moral sick- 
ness of the people under »t Big government is for 
little people The better the people, the less necessity 
there is for government 

He may no longer find government hopelessly incompe- 
tent, inadequate, and unintelligent, but he docs insist that 


its tendency, in contrast to that of business enterprise, is 
strongly in this direction He therefore hopes that govern* 
ment will be consigned to the hands of men who have 
made a success in business The average conservative, 
unless he is a civil servant, is not noted for his devobon 
to the cause of a permanent civil service extending up- 
ward to the highest ranks He still believes implicitly in 
the arbitrary and corrupting nature of pohbcal power," 
and he therefore agrees with Raymond Moley that many 
present uses of such power are simply "advenbbous 
props that cannot abruptly be removed without danger 
of disaster” 

The conservabve’s fondest hope is to remove at least a 
ew of these props, especially those that do not support 
is owti jjosibon, and thus to reduce the "swelling of gov- 
emment to manageable proportions “The conservabve 
i eal, writes Moley, “should be the exercise of great 
care and discrebon m imposing new forms of government 
mtenenbon and also a constant effort to reduce the area 
eady occupied by government” He would reduce the 
regu atory acbvibes of government through “constant 
vision of laws and of administrate machinery to permit 
se isciphne to grow” Professor Sheldon Glueck would 
re uce its welfare acbvibes by encouraging "forms of 
soci insurance, m which beneficiaries are not mere pas- 
lve recipients of doles but self-respecbng participants, 
oug stea y personal self-denial, in schemes of mutual 
proteebon against unavoidable hazards” Neither of these 

« ” ^ V0U » , 0 t ^ le feast bit troubled by accusations of 

ran ,r e ^’, too » are adept in the new semanbes and 

nahnn^i 1 316 “progressives” anxious to put the 

a t ° n *•* ro ad to the future from which the "re- 

actionary New Dealers diverted ,t 

he ha- COnSe t VatlVe l ustl ^ es all government acbvibes that 
»v » n °u °^ e 0r mtent,Qn of dismantling by fitting 
Senator T f. r ma S lc formula of equality of opportunity 
can . ’, f °f exam ple, acknowledged that every Amen- 
bon tn fi? ^ to the initial boost of a free pubic educa* 
labon 6 CQntlnued proteebon of non-regulatory legis- 
m Su PP ort of a "minimum living, ’ and to a helping 


hand in hme of distress or disaster Ultra-conservatives 
might halt short of these modest concessions, liberal con- 
servatives would certainly push farther All would agree 
that the final test of any instance of government activity 
is the quesbon does this law as administered increase 
equably of opportunity? Although some conservahves are 
troubled by the ease with which reformers turn this argu- 
ment against them — for example, by insisbng that civd- 
nghts legislation and federal aid to education are designed 
precisely to increase equality of opportunity — most are 
satisfied that it works m their behalf 
The American conservabve remains fundamentally 
anh-stabst in mood and philosophy He believes that the 
real danger to liberty lies in abuse of polibcal authority, 
that regulabon, even when plainly necessary, has a dead- 
ening effect on the mibabve and energy of free men, that 
the burden of proof rests completely on those who advo- 
cate increased government acbvity, and that, in Professor 
Glueck's words, “in many fields of human acbvity, the 
sum-total of legislabve mtervenbon m the private affairs 
of men may do much more social harm than good " The 
conservative still does not count government — certainly 
not nabonal government — as one of his blessings 

His dogged distrust of government finds expression in 
a constitubonal theory hardly less conservabve than that 
of Field and Sutherland Although he, too, has been ear- 
ned along on the new currents of consbtubonal mteipre- 
tabon, he clings to a hmitabomst point of view His 
conservative fear of "the tyranny of the unrestrained major- 
ity" leads him to repeat the timeworn slogans of laissez- 
faire constitutionalism He remains a culbst, a stnct-con- 
strueborust, and an exponent of divided and balanced 
government The circumstances of the past two decades 
have led him to place more faith in Congress, especially 
in those committees noted for obstruebon and delay, and '' 
less in the Supreme Court, but in due course the latter 
will reassert its bold on his affeebons The oonservabve 
has been thoroughly unnerved by the Courts perform- 
ance since 1937, and he will not find true peace of mind 
until it is once again more conservabve than the coun- 



by at large As to the Presidency, even the sight of one 
of his own kind in this highest office for ejght years has 
not allayed his suspicions of execubve power. The yeani- 
wg for Coohdge cannot be suppressed Finally, the turn 
of the wheel has presented him with another opportunity 
to honor Jefferson rather than Hamilton his view of the 
federal system is that of a confirmed states-nghter One of 
the basic elements in what Thomas Jen Ion calls "the new 
negativism” is the strong preference for local action over 
state and state over national to deal with any major prob- 
lem that plainly demands mtervenbon The conservahve's 
dislike of government is reflected in the negativism of his 
constitutional theory 

The conservahve’s thinking about society has under- 
gone a number of changes m the last twenty or thirty 
He 1S coming to realize that there « something 
called society, a grand complexity of mshtubons and re- 
lationships in which men are caught up from birth to 
death He is becoming more consciously conservabve 
3 i? U *i lts W insbtutions family, church, neighborhood, 
school, college, club, associabon, corporative and co- 
operahve enterprise To church and school he is espe- 
ci y devoted The former is the nursery of religious feel- 
ing, which he now places alongside free enterprise in the 
toundabon of liberty and democracy The latter is the 
agency he counts on most heavily to inspire devobon 
o inherited institutions and values The church preaches 
taith in Cod, the school teaches faith in the nation, and 
and nation have never seemed so important to the 
conservative as m this time of hesitabon 

The literature of 

— contemporary conservatism is warm 
W , J* ort k hke stability " “balance," “unity," “loyalty," 
A* a While the conservative has not aban- 

on the laissez-faire ideal of a social order dominated 
y competition among self-seeking individuals, he is more 
aware than his grandfather of the limits that must be set 
upon individual striving He has merged his old belief 
“dmdualism with his new concern for social 
n r U ,_.^ has produced an alloy that he calls “free co- 
pe on No one has expressed the notion of co-opera- 



hve individualism more enthusiastically than former Presi- 
dent Eisenhower, who has stated and restated his con- 
viction that the “freedom to compete vigorously among 
ourselves” must be balanced by “a readiness to cooperate 
wholeheartedly for the performance of community and 
national functions ” It is characteristic of the conservative 
that he seeks support for his theory in a new reading of 
American history Our glorious past, Eisenhower asserts, 
has been characterized by cooperation, and not by 
fighting among ourselves or refusing to see the other 
fellow’s viewpoint It has been a group effort, freely 
undertaken, that has produced the things of which 
we are so proud and which are represented in what 
we call the American way of life 

America is now seen to be the positive creation of 
" group effort, freely undertaken,” rather than the provi- 
dential result of fierce competition among men who walk 
alone "Self-reliance” and "individual effort* retain their 
old popularity among the men on the Right, but "team- 
work” has now been raised by Eisenhower and his fnends 
to equal rank 

We may now sum up the most important changes in con- 
servative thinking under the strain of the last twenty or 
thirty years Although the conservative mind clings to 
most of the principles and slogans of 1900 or 1925, it 
has been forced by the increasing complexity of our so- 
ciety, the imperfections of democracy and capitalism, the 
long trend toward the welfare state, and the menace of 
Communism to alter its outlook in these ways 

It is less individualistic With its shift m emphasis from 
rugged to co-operative individualism, its increasing re* 
Spcct for stability and unity, and its new devotion to 
groups and institutions, the conservative mind is showing 
more concern for the community than at any time smee 
Adams and Calhoun No amount of loose oratory 
the "free individual" can obscure this momentous trend 
in American conservative thought The free individual is 
no Jew prominent m conservative t hink i n g, but he jj 


posed to use his freedom to co-operate as often as to com- 

It is less absolutist The “air of sanctity and finality" 
that env eloped laissez-faire conservatism in the glorious 
ays of McKinley or Coohdge has been blown away by 
me storms of this quarter-century A conservative may 
e as attached as his grandfather to the concept of a 
g er law, but he is less ready to descnbe its content 
an commands He is still convinced that his way of life 
? s e approval of God and nature, but he is less sure 
at e approval is exclusive and unequivocal His mind 
searches for “the middle way," a path that Field and 
Sumner would have refused to travel 

t is less optimistic. Few conservatives can now be 
oun who will celebrate the perfectibility of man and 
certamty of progress or, like Herbert Hoover in 1928. 
•n, vT*! serene 'y to "the triumph over poverty” 
416 st,U used to comfort and exhort Ray- 
°, n _ ° * or “ample, speaks of "a luminous destiny” 
and Eric Johnston of America Unlmxted, Dr Norman^ 
incent eale sounds like an old record of Andrew Car- 
gie as e preaches to the millions the gospel of his “cult 
ta i^ eaSSUr . an , ce ^ et the mood of most conservatives, cer- 
.1 ^ mC , U Mo,e y- ,s one grun confidence rather 

is f CXU eran ^ anticipation Though the conservative 
••.J S _ as much an American as ever and expects that 
a coif S W1 t, COni f ° ut r ‘S ht m the end,” he is also more 
be fuK^tfak® CVer 3nd eXpeC,S ^ r ° ad S>he * d t0 
at m ° re ^ adltl0 nalist There is, as we have noted, 
future ^ k ° f Amenca ’ s heritage as of America's 

our e coronals, orations, and articles that express 

doirm and the articulate conservative is 

Mi'll" 8 H “ "T* “ 

; ^ rsmnas; 

" “ "°f e P ! ot 0 * founding fathers As . insult, hr. r»- 
“ver been keener, hi- m- 
ue'er more a ° W “ ° f U “ t 1 “'° ,y 


It is less mate nalis tic Again we must note carefully 
that the conservative has only amended not discarded, 
his grandfather’s principles and habits of thought He 
still speaks with extra warmth of economic nghts, still in- 
sists that democracy cannot exist apart from the eco- 
nomic system he calls free enterprise, stall measures the 
greatness of his counhy and its superiority over other 
countries chiefly m terms of automobiles, telephones, 
bathtubs, food consumption, and color television Yet he 
is beginning to show more mterest in political rights and 
more respect for religion, he is occasionally heard to won- 
der if there are not other things that make a nation truly 
great besides a high standard of living Although he is far 
from achieving a healthy adjustment among things ma- 
terial, moral, and cultural, his thinking about man and 
government has a less materialistic bias than that of the 
laissez-faire conservative of 1900 If he is a slight bit less 
moralistic than his grandfather, he injects more ethics 
into his moralizing about freedom and jts uses 

Finally, it is more consciously and outspokenly con- 
servati\e in principle and purpose Millions of "old-fash- 
ioned liberals” are emerging at last in the drab but honest 
colors of self-respecting conservatism, and their mere use 
of the word has given them new heart for the fight against 
their enemies on the Left. If there are those like Her- 
bert Hoover, Heniy M Wtiston, and Felix Morley who 
insist that they are “true Liberals,” there are also those 
like Senator Byrd, Frank Kent, and Robert Moses who 
are proud to call themselves conservatives Even Mr. 
Eisenhower has told us not to be afraid of the word “con- 
servative,'’ although hhe many of his admirers, including 
his still Io\aI lieutenant Richard Nixon, he insists on 
softening the impact with an adjective like "progressive” 
or “moderate” or "dynamic” 

Persuasive evidence that "the tyranny of Liberalism” 
is relaxing may be found m “The Faith of The Freeman, 
proclaimed by the editors of this ultra-con serv a Uv e maga- 
zine w their first issue 

In terms of current labels. The Freeman will be at 
once radical, Abend, conservative and reactionary 


It will be radical because it will go to the T0 ° t 
questions It will be liberal because it will stand iot 
the maximum of individual bberty - ^ 

conservative because it believes in conserving tne 
great constructive achievements of the past. And it 
will be reactionary if that means reacting against 
ignorant and reckless efforts to destroy precisely what 
is most precious m our great economic, political and 
cultural hentage in the name of alleged “progress 
I must confess that when I came across this statement, 
I considered throwing my notes to the wind and taking 
up botany, a science whose practitioners have come to 
some agreement on terminology 

It would be fitting, surely, to end this scrutiny of the 
modem Right with a few words from each of the three 
men who are considered its most distinguished figures 
Senator Taft 

There can be no doubt that the problems we face 
today are new problems Whether they can be 
solved by the application of old principles is th 0 
mam question before the people today 
President Eisenhower 

Every right-thinking American today is more con- 
cerned with the perpetuation of the fundamentals of 
the system that has made this country great than 
with any other single purpose 
President Hoover 

A splendid storehouse of integrity and freedom 
has been bequeathed to us by our forefathers In 
this day of confusion, of peril to liberty, our high 
duty is to see that this storehouse is not robbed of its 

Whether they will acknowledge it or not, these men 
and their followers are American conservatives in every 
important sense of die word That stall does not make 
them Conservatives. 



O R 

With Edmund Burke 
in Darkest America 

We come now to answer the bard question that we have 
been putting off all through this study how Conservative 
is American conservatism? What place do the ideas we 
associate with Edmund Buike seem to have in the work- 
ing philosophy of the American Right? 

The preceding chapters ought to have proved fairly 
conclusively that American conservatism has never been 
the prisoner of English or European Conservatism Even 
at the beginning of our experiment in independence, in 
the jears between Washington and John Quincy Adams, 
the intellectual kinship of the Right with that of any other 
country, even of England, was far from close In this re- 
gard, the reader is begged to go back to the last para- 
graph of Chapter IV What was said there about the cir- 
cumstances under which the Right has flourished in this 
country should be said again with fresh emphasis Ameri- 
can conservatism never had the need or opportunity to 
be as gloomy, apprehensive, elitist, anti-progressive, or 



anti-Liberal as European Conservatism For all his blunt 
talk about aristocracy and inequality, John Adams was 
John Adams of New England, not Edmund Buihe of Old 
ngland And since the beginning of our expenment in 
political and social democracy, which most historians 
would put between 1820 and 1840, the gap between the 
American and European Rights has been so wide as to cut 
® ,, : ran * ar *d intimate communication between them 
e our conservatives have occasionally gone abroad 
search of philosophical support, they have gone to 

nd C e 0 ” an<1 Ad3m Sm,th rather than to Burke and Cole * 

e American Right, bke Amcnea, has indeed been 
1 ercnt, jet not so different that its reactions to reform 
avc rne no resemblance to those of conservatives in 
er countries Our examination of American conscrva- 
m as revealed many assumptions and opinions that it 
arcs with Conservatives in Bntam and other countries 
mn “ S n , ow C0I i n P a re the political philosophy of American 
conservatism— by which I mean the modified Iaisscz- 
Hoover * Taft > and Eisenhower — 
1 . a 0 c ^ Conservative tradition as proclaimed, 
* Sa ^' . SUcfl Quls *anding latter-day disciples of 
« C as f r Wailsham in England and Russell Kirk in 
»nm nC3 We our attention on substance rather than 
r unc, crl> irig principles rather than politically 
looks bke this 1 * 15 ' comc U P with a balance sheet that 

Co,wcrta,,Jm uhtch the Amcrtcan 
cc-ncTtatn.e seems to agree 

!r ?XV\° n 'y ° f l» equably, 

the 1 ^ 3nd P° tentla l tjTanny of majority rule, 
older. P'opony <•>, liberty. 

- - - - 

*• “S'"*- i -"' to> 

the mued and immutable nature of man (he finds con- 



siderably more good in the mixture and is less convinced 
of the immutability), 

the natural inequality of men (he holds this deep-rooted 
belief apologetically, and expresses it as part of his for- 
mula for "equality of opportunity”) , 
the inevitability and necessity of social classes (his main 
criterion is economic achievement rather than birth, mili- 
tary prowess, public service, learning, or manners, and 
the object of his affection is the middle class), 
the desirability of diffusing power (while he empha- 
sizes the diffusion of political power, he tends to ignore 
the applicability of this principle to society, economy, 
and culture) , 

the rights of man as something earned rather than 
given (captive of the democratic dogma, he still ap- 
proaches the problem of human nghts m the spirit of 
Jefferson rather than of Calhoun), 
the balancing of nghts and duties, of freedom and 
responsibility (until recently he has been too enchanted 
with liberty to notice its high pnce), 

the importance of inherited institutions, values, sym- 
bols, and ntuals (he has not had as many of these as he 
might have wished, and his feeling for those he has is not 
as reverent as it might be), 

the conserv ative mission of education (he wants his 
children to be inculcated with virtue and tradition, but 
he also wants them “sprung loose” to take an active part 
in the American drive toward the future), 

the existence of immutable principles of justice and 
morality (he seems to put more emphasis on what must 
always be rather than what should, and finds most of his 
"laws of nature" to be operative only m the economic 
sphere) , 

a government whose marls are dignity, authority, legit- 
imacy, justice, constitutionalism, hierarchy, and the rec- 
ognition of limits (he has a characteristically American 
distrust of authority, even when exercised by a govern- 
ment that displays the other marls prominently, and cer- 
tainly he hndles at the notion of hierarchy) 

Principle about tchich he it hopelessly confused: 



the need for a ruling and serving aristocracy 
Principles about which he is serenely unconcerned 
the mystery, grandeur, and tragedy of history, 
the necessity of conservatism ' 

Principles with which he substantially disagrees 
^ fbe uncertainty of progress (he talks occasionally of 
the decline of the American republic," but only for rhe- 
torical purposes), 

the fallibility and limited reach of human reason (hiS 
faith in reason is not perfect, yet he makes considerable 
room for it in his philosophy), 
reverence, contentment, prudence, patriotism, self* 
' SC *P me ’ aud the performance of duty as marks of the 
goo man (he would regard three of these as admirable, 
o as evidences of weakness, and one as largely irrele- 
vant, while adding a few of his own like danng and 

order, unity, equity, stability, continuity, security, 
armony, and the confinement of change as marks of the 
5 ° “ c,ety wants his society to exhibit most of these 
c aractensbcs, but first of all he wants it to be open, fluid, 
competitive, and progressive) 

agrees^ which, so he says, he completely dts- 

»f 4o commmit y 

° ™ enca, J conservative shies away from Conserva- 
fnr n r> CSe a< ^ t ^ t,ona l counts he has no special feeling 
n u erVa t ,Ve *»d,twn, for much of h.s country’s 
hnnc^M Gen actet * out in defiance of its key assump- 
murh in ° eS n0t S ^ are t ^ le Conservative mood, for he is 
in ttiP , oa §S ressi ve and irreverent, and ainly deficient 
Concpn/Hf ocratlc s P lnt He has no developed sense of the 
a Z? nU , SS,0n ’ for he has been too much a part of 
nractir'a? n ^n 0IT ^ er although his mmd-in -action is 
seems em P inca l, it is he, not the Conservative, who 

Of life an (j 1 thought^ ^ quaLbeS mto 311 entue Way 
S ^ ee * 1S incomplete We must now 
with «“™ mosaic ” °f Conservatism side by side 
an she complexity” of American conserva- 



bsm and compare them in terms of general impressions 
rather than particular details If we do this with rigorous 
honesty, we find that their final differences in mood and 
philosophy are three m number first, American conserva- 
tism is clearly more optimistic — about the nature of 
man, the uses of reason, the possibilities of progress, and 
the prospects for democracy Second, it is clearly more 
materialistic The orientation of its political theory is to 
economics rather than ethics or even politics, and its feel- 
ing for religion, history, and higher law is cheapened by 
the assumption that these mighty forces reserve their 
special blessings for the American economy It is happily 
at home in the modem world and worries hardly at all 
about the ways of life and thought that industrialism has 
weakened or wiped out Finally, American conservatism 
is clearly more individualistic In rejecting the primacy 
of society, in underrating the capacity of government to 
do good, in passing lightly ov« r groups and institutions 
that serve as buffers between man and political authority, 
it has pushed the precious concept of the free individual 
to an extreme position that no genuine Conservative can 
occupy with peace of mind The notion of society as a 
mass of struggling individuals who must root or die — ail 
on their own — has no place in the Conservative tradi- 
tion While the contemporary Right is turning away 
slowly from the exaggerated optimism, mat< nalism, and 
individualism of the full season of laissez-faire conserva- 
tism, it has “miles to go before it sleeps” in the plain bed 
of Conservatism 

The reason the American Right is not Conservative today 
is that it has not been Conservative for more than a hun- 
dred years The reason it first abandoned Conservatism, 
even the characteristically American version proclaimed 
by John Adams, may be summed in two words democ- 
racy and industrialism. These great forces were, and shll 
are, the active marplots of American Conservatism They 
have made it difficult to be a conservative and almost 
impossible to be a Conservative 

Conservatism first emerged to meet the challenge of 

democracy In countries like England it was able to sur- 
vive the nse of this new way of life by giving way a little 
Rt a time under its relentless pounding, but in America 
e tawnph of democracy was too sudden and complete, 
t came to society as well as to politics, it came early in 
>1 w ? 0Ty ® e P u ^ e and found the opposibon only 

u 8 rf came with such promises of liberty and 
prosperity that the opposibon deserted m droves The 
resut was a disaster for genuine, old-country Conserva- 
sm owhere m the world did the progressive, opbmis- 
c, ega itarian mode of thinking invade so completely the 
mm o an enbre people Nowhere was the Right forced 
a rupty into such an untenable posibon If there is 
e f l ualjt y that the Right seems always and every- 
th ° CU .. tlvate ' ,l 15 unquestioning pabiobsm, and this, 

. Vu 3 i * 0r unc l uestjonin g devotion to the nabon’s 
J.™ long-standing merger ot "Amenca- and “de- 
someth f S me . ant that *° profess Conservabsm is to be 
indeed T ^ an ~ one hundred per cent American”, 

thai ti, 15 ° f P lestl0n the nabon's desbny Worse than 
Dolitieal 1S f a n i er ® Cr Jt aS ^ oonie ^ outspoken Conservabves to 
and accent 'tl? 1116 had to renounce Conservabsm 

out of 6 g £ ouru * rufes of democracy or be thrown 

« we £: game f ° r dlslo >' a,t y and perversity The game, 
the men nf'rt, to ° Peasant and profitable, and 

"nth smashing 6 sj!^® ^ P ' a>mg ll eVer SmC<5 l84 ° 

and^ngumn? ^ du ' tnalisin was hardly less precipitate 
sweeping a v g , w ^ ere 1,1 the world did it achieve so 

a «S S °r r other " a X* ° { hfe and thought- 

place its ’ miIltar T. and even political — and thus 

Nowhere did S ° 6 ? n,y 111 t,le seats of S0C,aI P ower 
talents Q f ,c„ f 0no P°hze so completely the uncommon 
thoughts of tt " d moU 50 ‘he common 

—s iuiz°z N °", h "? ^ •<» b ”“- 

Right from t}le com PkteIy as the key man of the 
and the statesman OWner ’ genUeman - soldier, 

t-onservabsm'^it^ * n ^ us tnabsm was doubly calamitous for 
m U generated the all-pervadmg climate of 



materialism that made it possible for men to identify capi- 
talism with democracy, it gave these men an enormous 
stake in progress and bade them think and act in terms of 
unlimited expansion Looked at from the long view of 
history, the American capitalist, however "conservative” 
his views on government, family, property, school and 
church, has been the most marvelous agent of social 
change the world has ever known Many men we like 
to think of as models of conservative thought and purpose 

Morgan, Rockefeller, Ford — were m an important sense 
radicals, for their experiments in finance and technology 
Worked changes in our way of life whose scope should 
make the most sanguine reformer choke with admiration 
The men on the Right were both the chief agents and 
chief beneficiaries of industrial progress They confined 
their “progressivism" to the economic sphere and assumed 
that the swift pace of technology would leave old institu- 
tions hke the family unbanned, and cherished values like 
personal honesty uncorrupted Yet the revealing fact is 
that they were burning to take this chance on industrial 
expansion, The Conservative mood has always fitted our 
industrialists rather ill And yet if they have not been the 
paiadmS of American conservatism, what men have been? 

Had the post-Civil War conservative remained Con- 
servative, he might have slowed up the assault of ma- 
terialism on the American mind, but his taste for Con- 
servatism had already been spoiled by a generation of 
double talk about liberty and equality And how, in truth, 
could he have stood firm against the mighty tide that was 
sweeping him to profits in business and power in politics? 
Creator and creature of the climate of materialism, he 
came to equate life with business, rel.gion with success, 
and the moral law with the struggle for survival. The 
most ingenious and disastrous of his false equations 
was the merger of the Jeffersonian liberty of the >eoman 
to till his soil, eat his bread, cast his vote, and worship his 
God without interference from prince or priest with the 
Spencerian liberty of the industrialist to amass all the 
wealth and power possible this side of the written law. 
One could hardly be Conservative arid go in for this sort 



of tiling What we have called the "Great Train Robbery 
of American intellectual history” was the work of men 
who would have found Burke and Adams a pair of 
“cranky old bores * 

Another force working against Conservatism was the 
doctrine of individualism, which was part of our thinking 
before democracy and industrialism gathered new 
strength and meaning from their triumph, and became in 
bme the core of our political and economic traditions 
Thanks to his uncritical acceptance and ruthless defense 
of this doctrine, especially in its application to his own 
economic freedom, the American conservative has found 

it easy to achieve his short-range goals of wealth and 
power but hard to spin himself a cohesive philoso- 
phy In stark contrast to a central belief of Conserva- 
bs j n > * e American Right has asserted the pnmacy of the 
m ividual over society The binding cement of Conserva- 
tive social theory is the assumption that the individual 
ds peace, freedom, and fulfillment only by co-operat- 
ing with his fellows ui the Tittle platoons” and submitting, 
whenever necessary, to the demands of the great com- 
munity Rugged individualism has not been a cement but 
an exp osive charge, constantly sputtering, occasionally 
going o , and thus preventing the formation of American 
conservative ideas into a harmonious pattern We may 
conce e all these things that our individualism was never 
^58 m fact as it is in legend, that it was often little 
ore an a handy weapon with which to belabor the 
umsy e orts of reformers to mitigate the evils of indus- 
and*th > V” ia * WaS P llc ^ et ^ primarily in economic terms, 
. « co-operative rather than rugged individualism is 

*, v X ^ 6 r3 ^ e Pk ,n truth remains that conserva* 
* ,8 “ thlS ^sthng land has been oriented al- 

covemrJ nP » et ^rL V mar< * man and away from society or 
yjj. 1 Cn "While the free, dignified, inviolable indi- 
thp * f SIC P° stu ^ ato of the Conservative tradition, 
freedom »», t a ^ no *WgM limits on this individuals 
now able t «ZS* tl " Am ' n ““ R ‘ Sht “ C eV “ 
" TiuS bus thng land’— there, m a phrase, is the sum of 



a unique historical situation in which it has been easy for 
an American to be an opportunistic Rightist, hard for him 
to be a conscious conservative, and all but impossible for 
him to be a dedicated Conservative The pace of our 
social process, made visible m the surge of a whole conti- 
nent toward democracy and industrialism, has been 
simply too fast for most men of conservative temper to 
be even moderately faithful in practice, and thus in 
theory, to the commands of the thankless persuasion 
For those willing to follow this pace there have been solid 
satisfactions, for those willing to force it great nches, and 
it would have been asking too much of conservatives 
with normal appetites and interests to choose deliberately 
to lag behind Yet even those like Morgan, Rockefeller, 
and Ford who chose to force a breathless pace must neces- 
sarily have shuddered over the results of their revolu- 
tionary activities Even they must have been able to gaze 
through the mists of power and prestige that enveloped 
them to catch sight of a country quite unlike the one in 
which they had been bom 

Ford, in particular, stakes the eye of the historian as an 
almost perfect symbol of the ambivalent position of the 
American conservative No man, surely, ever did more 
m fact and in example to change the face of America. 
The assembly line, the five-dollar day, and above all the 
inexpensive automobile joined together to destroy the 
customs, tastes, manners, and practices— even the mating 
habits — of one way of hfe and to put another in its place. 
He was, I repeat, one of the supreme radicals of all time, 
a mover and shaker worth matching with Lenin Yet he 
was also, as those who knew him will testify warmly, a 
supreme conservative, a man well content to honor the 
values of the American past m religion, politics, social 
relations, cducabon, and culture More than content, j£ 
the visible truth be spoken, for he was the builder of Creejj. 
field Village, that astonishing accumulation of American^ 

— the one-room schoolhousc, the horse-drawn fire cngm e 
the buckboard, the livery stable, the county- m n , tf*' 
dirt road to market, the town-pump— which he did ^ 
than any other man to render obsolete The conbjjj ^ 


River Rouge and Greenfield Village— of Henry Ford in the 
radical act of creation and Henry Ford in the nostalgic 
act of re-creation — is at least a rough measurement of the 
bewildering dimensions of the paradox known as Ameri- 
can conservatism To live with this paradox and be a 
t inking Conservative, even a practising conservative, 
15 a feat to which until very recently only an occasional 
eccentric American has been fully equal 

e mi fiht wander indefinitely among the by-products 
° em °cracy and industrialism, pointing to this arrange- 
ment or that prejudice as yet another reason why the 
onservative tradition has been virtually barred from 
mencan ground Certainly we could linger before the 
a i ion of a classless society and fact of an open-ended 
js structure, the low estate of the American aristocracy 
net consequent low esteem in which wc hold the ansto- 
® fP 1 " 1, * e absence from the landscape of a political 
P y al ca b itself conservative, the adoration we 
r° n suent,st an d his science, the popular pref- 
iarlv ° r ' ocatJOna I to liberal education, and the pecul- 
a ly unromanfc attl tude take toward p r0 p ert y We 

bon? con template the scarcity of deep-rooted insbtu- 
the * r ° U "‘ I ' vIu ch conservatives can rally in defense of 
, ,^' en r ,' v ®y s Obviously vve have owned too few of 
manv 6 u? ghsh ^ onserva tive has owned perhaps too 
itv' L,r!? S1 * ex P ressions of the timeless quest for stabil- 
think an ^ ° r ^ er chose — most of us would 

lished rV, 6 \ ° Ur wa y ^thout a crown or estab- 

rt is ono fl ’ bUt W ® must nevertheless recognize that 
other to H msbtutions like these, quite an- 

understnrwf e " 3 concentrabon of property or a vaguely 
bated mto ,r°n 0miC SyS,em ’ ^ ,t » transubstan- 
tenal WP n \> ° oastj tution Nor do our evidences of ma- 
milhon bathtub f ° rm 3 s , absfactor y substitute Eighty 
hardly the firm t ** j 3 C0,0SsaI achievement, they are 
Yet all *v, our *dahon of a Conservative tradibon 
vabon that 15 J^ anc * enn g would only confirm an obser- 
Richts rtpf- 6 , s n .° confirmabon the root causes of the 
unique histoid °ti, fr ° m Con$ ervabsm lie m Amenca's 
O' The size and vanety of the country, the 



abundance of natural resources, the immense force ex- 
erted by currents of immigration, the immense counter- 
force exerted by the frontier, the absence of feudal relics, 
the omnipresence of the feeling of freedom and adven- 
ture, above all the upsurge of industrialism and conse- 
quent decline of agrarianism — all these factors and many 
more helped create a social and intellectual soil in which 
the flower of Conservatism has withered and died 
America has not been a rocky field from which this flower 
could take no nourishment It has been, rather, a lush 
jungle m which a more adaptable group of principles — 
democracy, egalitarianism, individualism — have sprouted 
in easy abundance and choked off this growth except in 
isolated spots The American mind has been optimistic, 
materialistic, and individualistic, and the conservative 
half of it has had to be these things, too The tradition 
has been Liberal, and the conservative, a traditionalist, has 
honored it, if only by twisting it canmly to his own ends 
The society has been amazingly liberal and open, and the 
conservative, perched somewhere near the top, could 
hardly advocate that it be rebuilt on European lines It 
may certainly be argued, and I shall argue it shortly, that 
the nineteenth-century American conservative did not 
have to go overboard so confidently into the fresh waters 
of Liberalism, and that the twentieth-century conserva- 
tive should stop splashing about happily as If the pond 
were all his It would appear, however, that the former 
had no choice but to repudiate, in his mind and heart as 
well as in lus speech, some of the most sacred articles of 
the Conservative tradition, and that the latter has had no 
choice but to follow that lead The fullness of the Con- 
servative tradition has been something no active member 
of the American Right could possibly embrace When 
the one glorious thing to be conservative about has been 
the Liberal tradition of the world’s most liberal society, 
how could a conservative be expected to be Conserva- 

Let us concede this point to the American Right under 
circumstances of life and thought on this continent, it 



could not possibly have swallowed Conservatism whole 
and regurgitated a political theory that was both 
genuinely Conservative and characteristically American, 
The persistent refusal of American conservatism to be 
Conservative is not so stupid and heretical as some cnbcs 
at home and abroad seem to think Even when we grant 
the benefit of this doubt to American conservatism, how- 

ever, we must conclude that its intellectual performance 
has been and remains several cuts below that of British 
Conservatism The wonderful fertility of the American 
conservative nund in producing schemes for industrial 
expansion has had its other side in a deplorable sterility 
in producing ideas for the defense of the American way 
0 i* e ’ and ^ 1S sterility has never been more evident than 
i* 1 e > ears °f political resurgence under Taft and Eisen- 
ower This is a fact to which many conservatives attest 
as frankly as their enemies on the Left Clarence B Ran- 
a , a leading spokesman for the business community, 
agrees that he and his fnends "have learned how to use 

eV \VV, ni0denl t0 ° l exce P t language ” 

er ever one turns, one is confronted with signs of 
e intellectual sterility of American conservatism the 
? . lca puerility of business advertising and oratory 
Whvf’r m COmiC but dlstressin g detail m Wilham H 
* * An ybody Listening?), the periodic revival of 
“on C >, j Herbert Spencer, the eagerness with which 
e , un red P er cent Americans" have seized on the 
w ‘ eci ^ s European intellectuals like Hayek and von 
frivol’ C W1 “ e dissemination of so ill-tempered, ill-con- 
1 , * * tract 1 as J oh « T Flynn's The Road Ahead, the 
servaH ® sde nce of the great company of middling con- 
Lawrrn 68 f* Wait to take their cue from David 

left a r.v° tbeir n S ht or Walter Lippmann to their 
thinking f unsettbn 8 fact that some of the best current 
done bv ° e , SsentlaU y conservative nature is being 
hold P „ cal progressives as Lippmann, Rem- 

Mdi (taw,, Adkl st™™,, 

stenLtv C t S!* 1 * , ® n ^ an< * oddest result) of this chronic 
temixvran, e consciously political literature of the con- 
^ ght, especially the angry, stereotyped, slo- 



ganeenng, myth-making, black-or-wjnte speeches and 
articles that ultra-conservatives bnng forth m abundance 
and middling conservatives, who would know better if they 
could think more clearly for themselves, devour hungrily 
The immense popularity of Barry Goldwater’s The Con- 
science of a Conservative, f or all its sincerity a tract of 
frightening simple-mindedness, and of Norman Vincent 
Peales The Power of Positive Thinking, a homily whose 
fatuous view of man and history must set the teeth of any 
thoughtful conservative on edge, are evidence enough of 
the shabby quality of the popular literature of the Ameri- 
can Fight ‘'Political debate” m America, Thurman Arnold 
writes, “is in reality a series of cheers in which each side 
strives to build up its own morale," and no side has more 
comforting (and meaningless) cheers or more bouncy 
(and untutored) cheerleaders than our conservatives 
Rather than fill up these pages, and exhaust the pa- 
tience of my readers, with annotated quotations from the 
canonical writings of the current heroes of laissez-faire 
conservatism, let me mention only one addibonal aspect 
uf what Arnold has called the “folklore of capitalism" the 
superabundance of myths about the American past in 
this angry, abundant, and yet somehow humdrum litera- 
ture of the Right History, always a favorite refuge of the 
embattled conservative, has been turned into an outpost 
from which to launch savage assaults on the reformers 
and, for that matter, on the truth. The more angrily and 
possessively conservative the man on the Right, the more 
delusively out of focus are the spectacles with which he 
surveys the past Since he cannot falsify the facts of his- 
tory deliberately, like Big Brother and his gang in Orwell's 
1984, he finds comfort in myths, the fabrication not of 
one man but of alL Current favontes in conservative liter- 
ature, all embodying enough grams of Historical truth to 
appear as "facts" to the man on the Right, are the myths 
that government aid played no part in the^ budding of 
America, that once upon a time there was a natural har- 
mony of interests," which has since been spoiled by a 
meddling government, that American sod a mcapa&fe of 
growing "unsound" or “radical" ideas, and that such ideas 



were all imported from abroad, that the Pilgrims tried 
t re J e f te ^ Communism, and that the core of Thomas 
Jefferson s thinking was laissez-faire capitalism (These 
myths are not confined to American history That rncred- 
i y complex and agonized event, the decline and fall of 
e Roman Empire, is explained simply as “the result of 
e dole ) The conservative mythology, like that of all 
nations and classes that deplore the present and fear the 
uture, has its own version of the Golden Age, an age — 
was it under Garfield, McKinley, Taft, or Coolidge?-^>f 
wise and frugal government, unregulated business, equal 
opportunity, rags to nches. sound money, low taxes, 
empty bars, full churches, kindly managers, devoted 
V° r , ers> security for all who would do an honest 
ays work The greatest of all m>ths affirms that laissez- 
taue conservatism is "true Liberalism” and true Liberal- 
m one hundred per cent Americanism No myth is ever 
tfiat ^oogh which a class or interest 
an \ ltSC ^ wdl ^' e natl on and the nation with itself, 
otr C i con I servat, ve has sought eagerly to satisfy him- 
allm ° rn, m . deed a11 of us . on this point Even when we 
allow Gharles E Wilson full credit for that “and vice 
_ ? , 3 * e tai * °f his memorable affirmation, "What’s 

hrinn i°. r C [ lera * f ‘f° tors ,s good for the country," we are 
men f ,Vl al dl,s was a classic and revealing speci- 

the fnllrl 6 f 0 .^ dore °f capitahsm,” which is, of course, 
the folklore of laissez-faire conservatism 

cnmmn 'r cerlaln ly be argued, is a rather tnvial and 
freo nfl au m which the conservative engages no more 
„ Tf y “f unashamedly than does Uie liberal or 
our ipim 6 V !" a , ke m yths, just as we all lead cheers for 
on his *V, ^ t *^ e conserva tive leans more comfortably 
conservit 3 15 “ ecause he is, even when he denies it, a 
radical * i,' 6 Heav y political and social thinking is the 
,;t' n ,rr s ’ r 0t ^ h * ha s better things to do than 

should not he&T'l **“* ,USUXy P 0Sltl0n - wIuch 
would not if ib tlunks ' have to be justified at all — and 
their own ft, 6 a S ,ta * ln g men of the Left would only take 

UtT S e ° neS a LttIe les * senously 

™* concede this second point to the Amen- 



can Rjght tbe logic of the conservative jostixs. whxh vS 
always discouraging to fancy thinking, and t!*? ys s hty ci 
American debate, which, has almost sVi'S pc-t a pre« 
rmurn on myth and aphorism, have conspired to inline 
the voices of those who might have spoken profound^ 
and sear chin gfy, rather than superSaaR) ^^d dogmati- 
cally, for the cause of American conservatism. This still 
cannot relieve the Right of the burden of its chief intel- 
lectual sin: the glad, unthinking zeal with which it first 
embraced and still cherishes the principles of economic 
Liberalism. While the American conservative was bound 
to be optimistic, he did not have to cleanse his public 
thoughts of aH doubts about man's goodness and democ- 
racy's wisdom While he was bound to be materialistic, 
he did not have to measure all things — even the morals 
of Jesus — with the yardstick of economic fulfillment, nor 
did he have' to ape his bitter cncnues the Marxists by 
insisting that the determining factor m the expiation of 
freedom is the way in which the means of production aro 
owned and organized While he was bound to be with 
statist, he did not have to go so l>htluly to the extreme of 
rugged individualism Certainly ho did not have to dwell 
exclusively on the points of conflict in the relationship of 
individual and society, ignoring man's need for the shel- 
tering community And how could ho havo been, mid ap- 
parently still be, so blind to the tremendous power that 
some private men wield over other private men as to in- 
sist that the only real danger to liberty in the industrial 
society is "government ascciulanc) ?"* 

This is an indictment to which no lalsscz faire conserva- 
tive is likely to make a satisfactory return. If ho argues 
that traditionalism, constitutionalism, morality, and re- 
ligion have provided n strong countcrbilanco to the 
alleged Liberal excesses In Ills political ihmking. he can 
he answered that his conservative principles have flour- 
ished m splendid isolation and havo done little to curb 
the extremism of his baslo thought He has interpreted 
our trad lb on and Constitution narrowly in a manner that 
suits his short run purposes; his morality and religion 
have served Mammon as often as Cod If he reminds us of 



the compelling reasons why his whole outlook was 
“bound to be different," he can be answered, “Indeed it 
was, but not that different,” surely not so different that it 
could slight two great responsibilities of any political 
theory — to maintain a balance among economic, political, 
and ethical considerations, and to deal realistically with 
man’s visible need for security and fellowship The intel- 
lectual flabbiness of the American Right is evident in 
the fullness of its surrender to the dictates of democracy 
and industrialism, its intellectual sterility is exposed in the 
continued failure to put these mighty forces in proper 
perspective The laissez-faire conservative of the nine- 
teenth century had no sea anchor to arrest his dnft into 
extreme individualism and materialism The laissez-faire 
conservative of the twentieth has no sail with which to 
beat his way back to his proper station 

The intellectual shortcomings of American conserva- 
tism, like its deviations from the Conservative line, are 
explained by the peculiar course of our history Democ- 
racy and industrialism created' a climate of thought and 
debate m which old-fashioned Conservatism became a 
one-way ticket to social noncomformit}, financial medi- 
ocrity, and political suicide Active men of the Right 
therefore abandoned Conservatism, some of them moving 
into a position of casual indifference, others energetically 
espousing Liberalism, as they understood it In either case, 
too many of them abandoned conservatism along with 
Conservatism, and the result was a paralysis of construc- 
tive thinking Long since forced into a situation that 
would have been intellectually untenable for an) one who 
thought about it seriously, the man on the Right h3S 
sought peace in hardly thinking about it at all He has 
found it both comforting and profitable to belabor hb- 
e with the slogans of Liberalism and checkmate demo- 
crat* with the promises of democracy 

A related cause of the failure of the conservative mtel- 
, 14 R 6 t ^' al a disproportionate share of creative 
tak ? t b** been drawn off from the histone conservative 
pro essions of statesman, landholder, teacher, civil serv- 
^ P nest » Rnd soldier into the exciting venture of exploit- 


21 ? 

ing our resources and peddling the products to ourselves 
and the world, and that even within these professions 
there has been a dearth of speculative thinlang America 
has always rewarded action over thought, and our most 
able men of the Right have been too busy building rail' 
roads and refrigerators to build a philosophical system of 
any kind The field of political and social speculation, al' 
ways the preserve of the cntics of society, has been theirs 
to roam without effective challenge Not entirely inci- 
dentally, the sterility of the Right has had a debilitating in- 
fluence on the intellectual performance of the Left The 
reformers, too, “need the enemy,” and surely a root cause 
of the present doctrinal discontents of American progres- 
s.vism is exactly this lack of an effective challenge from 
the spokesmen of the great mass of middling conservatives 
Be that as it may, the American Right has displayed an 
attitude of anU-mtellectuahsm that goes far beyond the 
quizzical suspicion that most conservatives seem to have 
for men whose business is thinlang rather than doing The 
American conservative has not merely distrusted the poet, 
professor, philosopher, and political theorist, he has 
scorned them, bullied them, and not seldom despised 
them As man of action, in hot pursuit of present profit, 
he has been too heavily engaged to read or reflect and 
thus looks with misgiving on those who do As man of sta- 
tus and substance, generally satisfied with things as they 
are, he is easily disturbed by those who, from seats high 
up m the stands, criticize his actions, challenge his posi- 
tion, and propose changes in the rules of a game in which 
he has been a heavy winner He and the intellectual are 
trapped m a vicious circle the more savagely one of them 
baits the more savagely he is baited In the end, the mid- 
dling conservative is left with only a handful of faithful 
friends m the ranks of intellectuals, for his materialism and 
primitivism alienate natural allies as well as natural foes 
Liberal intellectuals strike back in the manner of Thorstem 
Veblen and Sinclair Lewis, Conservative intellectuals in 
the manner of Henry and Brooks Adams, displaced per- 
sons in the manner of H L Mencken The conservative 
Is left largely to think lor himself, and this he is entirely 



unequipped to do Producer and product of an industrial 
civilization, he has been far too concerned with "know- 
how," far too little concerned with "know-what" and 
"know-why" No one can accuse him of being "sickbed 
o’er with the palo cast of thought * 

A final, all-pervading reason for the intellectual sterility 
of the American Right is, as I have already hinted, that its 
intensely practical and uncritical nature reflects the preva- 
lent quality of all our thinking about government and so- 
ciety We Americans have all glorified fact at the expense 
of theory, exalted the value of the experience and de- 
flated the power of the idea It is hardly an accident that 
pragmatism is America’s major contribution to philos- 
ophy, and the conservative, it can be argued, has been 
simply the most pragmatic of a race of pragmatists Daniel 
Boorstin suggests, in The Ccniut of American Politics, 
that "the marvelous success and vitality of our institu- 
tions have saved us from "the European preoccupation 
with political dogmas and have left us inept and uninter- 
ested ui political theory" We have not needed philoso- 
phers "because we already have an American philosophy, 
implicit in the American Way of Life “ While this is not 
die place to worry Mr Doorstin’s thesis, we might remem- 
ber that no American is more certain than the conserva- 
tive of the identity of his own institutions with the Ameri- 
can way of life, and that no one could therefore have less 
use for philosophers In the realm of ideas, American con- 
servatism has proved itself a footsore failure 

In the realm of action, where it much prefers to be judged 
and certainly should be on any large view — American 
conservatism has achieved both success and failure I 
P to say a few words about the over-all record of the 
active Right In the last chapter It must bo enough here 
o point out sadly that the failure of American conscrva- 
tum in theory has been likewise a failure in fact In Chap- 
, I observed that an understanding of laissez-faire con- 
*«saturn u a key to an understanding, not only of the 
™ moJ «n Right, but of the American pohucal 

tiQO me now enlirgo on that observation. 


Tie core of our tradition is Jeffersonian democracy, 
and Jeffersonian democracy, as we know, bad a strong 
antipathy to the very notion of government. For centuries 
ordinary men bad looked upon government as an oppres- 
sive tool of the rich, as a means for perpetuating pnvilege 
and legalizing inequality When, for example, govern- 
ment intervened in the labor market, it was to keep hours 
op and wages down, when it intervened in commerce and 
finance, it was to grant favors and privileges to the few al- 
ready on top of the heap. Active government was some- 
thing associated with the likes of Alexander Hamilton, and 
the agrarians of 1800 had eveiy reason to fear it Like 
most men, they went further than necessaiy m general- 
izing from their fears and ended up as advocates of doc- 
trinaire anb-stabsm By 1830 most Americans shared this 
attitude, the mtervenbon of government— to regulate, 
though not necessarily to subsidize — was inherently hos- 
tile to popular liberty 

The passage of a half -century brought no change in the 
tradibon but did bnng a virtually complete reversal in the 
pracbcal posibons of Left and Right The former now rec- 
ognized that it, too, could seize and wield the power of 
government, and that this power alone could win social 
justice for the stepchildren of industrialism The latter 
now recognized that government was a two-edged sword 
With which reformers, backed by a popular majority, 
might cut the well-to-do down to size 

Having first come to terms with Jeffersonian democracy 
and then merged it with laissez-faire capitalism, the men 
On the Right were now m an ideal ideological position to 
defend their property and. power against attempts to reg- 
ulate them in the public interest In insisting, like the Jef- 
fersonians, that the only real liberty was liberty from gov- 
ernment, they appealed more shrewdly than they knew 
to the traditions and hopes of the American middle class 
They were able to convince themselves and great num- 
bers of their polibcal enemies that their laissez-faire prin- 
ciples were authenbc Jeffeisonian democracy Agrarian 
democrats, the true heirs of Jefferson, were now under 
constant pressure to prove that they were not m fact 

216 conservatism m America 

anb-democrabc, they were themselves tom between a 
clear recognition of the need for government regulation 
and an uncomfortable feeling that such regulation was a 
departure from the democratic faith Industrial conserva- 
tives, the true heirs of Hamilton, were now able to defend 
their entrenched positions agamst the reformers by cry- 
ing out the slogans of Jeffersonian democracy 

As a result, our public discussions of reform have been 
muddied, if not bloodied, to on entirely unnecessary ex- 
tent The confusion of conservative thought and hyper- 
bole of conservative speech have all hut ruled out sober 
public debate on many vital issues It is hard to argue with 
a man who, like Falstaff, “babbles of green fields,” even 
harder to argue with an anb-hberal who babbles in the 
language of Liberalism The conservabve, in truth, has 
held the whip hand m most debates over the American 
way of life He has been able to pose as the true friend 
of democracy, even when he has been most flagrantly 
anti-democrabc in purpose and philosophy He has been 
able to brand v, ell-meaning, democrahc reformers as "reao- 
bonanes,” men bent on “taking us back” to the days when 
government intervened to grant special privileges to the 
nch and well bom, he has been delighted to stand history 
and logic on their heads by asserting knowingly that a re- 
forming liberal like Franklin Roosevelt was really no bet- 
ter than a “twenbeth-ccntury Federalist ” This sort of 
thinking and talking may have served the conservabve 
well from the short-range point of view, and it could bo 
argued that there are more ways than one to defend an 
established order The fact that conscrvabsm is supposed 
to be the thankless persuasion” does not mean that it must 
court unpopularity deliberately Yet it is impossible to 
deny that the confusions of American conservabve 
thought have had a depressing influence on tho art of 
public debate, the advance of social justice, the solution 
of persistent problems of a complex industrial society, ard 

e identificabon and defense of the primary values in our 

In conclusion, it should be clearly understood that 
t3iri y pouria m thii account of the intellectual short com- 



mgs of American conservatism are matters of opinion open 
to criticism, qualification, and rebuttal Certainly we 
would want to listen respectfully to the argument that this 
spotty record was a small and necessary price to pay for 
the contributions of the Right to the building of industrial 
America, the winning of two world wars, and the pre- 
vention of a third If one accepts the thesis of Allan Nevms 
that "the industrial revolution in the United States came 
none too soon, and none too fast, and that the ensuing 
mass-production revolution was not bom a day too 
early, one may certainly overlook a good part of this rec- 

Yet the feeling cannot be downed that the intellectual 
and cultural puce the nation has paid foT material progress 
was neither small nor necessaiy, that we could have had 
our industrial system and a sounder conservatism, too, and 
that such a conservatism, less popular but more spirited, 
would have saved us from many vulgar excesses of the 
past seventy-five years We can all agree that American 
'onsmatism was bound to be difierent, but some of us 
may continue to insist that it did not have to be that dif- 
ferent It would have served the Repubbc more wisely 
and well had it not become both captive and captor of the 
democratic dogma, both master and slave of the industrial 
Way of life 

Writing a dozen years ago out of a full acquaintance with 
all these considerations, and basking, as he wrote, in the 
still warm rays of the setting sun of Roosevelt progressiv- 
ism, Lionel Tnlling denied the relevance or even exist- 
ence of an American philosophy of self-conscious conserva- 

In the United States at this time liberalism is not 
only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tra- 
dition For it is the plain fact that nowadays there 
are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general 
circulation This does not mean, of course, that there 
is no impulse to coastssitisnv ct reaction. - . E14 

the conservative impulse and the reactionary ]q_ 



pulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiasti- 
cal excepbons, express themselves in ideas but only 
m acbon or in irritable mental gestures which seek to 
resemble ideas 

It is doubtful that Trilling would be as off-handed to- 
day m dismissing the Right as a force of no consequence 
in intellectual America The plain fact is — and by now it 
must be plain to all but the most asbgmabc observers on 
the Left— that fresh, even turbulent currents of anti-Lib- 
eralism have been pounng into and roiling the great main- 
stream of the American tradibon ever since the close of 
World War II In the fields of education, theology, litera- 
ture, social relations, culture, and pokbes, the pleasant 
assumpbons and dogmas of the Liberal tradibon have 
been brought into doubt, if by no means into widespread 
disrepute, by the protests and badgerings of a small host 
of poets, preachers, authors, professors, and publicists 
Some of these critics have stood polbcaUy on the Right, 
others on the Left, still others have soared serenely above 
he sweaty clash of pohbcs Some of them have been Lib- 
era seeking simply to curb the stylisbc excesses of Lib- 
era ism, others, intellectual reactionaries peddling some 
ong isused brand of social nostrum bke distnbubsm or 
anarc ism, still others have been no more than prudent 
■ggers into the American and Bnbsh pasts, men con- 
cern to discover whether the ideas of Jefferson and Mill 
were a ways in fact sa ascendant as we have assumed The 
e , ectua reacll0n against tradibonal American ways of 
' n ® a °out man, culture, society, and history has been 
.1 C °° 1150 CQ nfusmg as the pohbcal reacbon against 
V1S i m °* t ^ le 1 93o's Yet no one can fail to see 
fir* ra tra( htion is now under sharp if not lethal 

whns* 1 t t ^ 1,s ® re ,s being laid down by men 

the Right Ca Stance mar ^ s them plainly as occupants of 

subl? V S i° uId ^ most ,nl eresbng to us about this many- 
ed reacbon against Liberalism is the new life -t has 
ture V™ »v. n ^,° n t lt frm Sc of American politics and cul- 
e Conservabve tradition A score of able and 



articulate writers have been fluttering the academic 
dovecotes, if not exactly convulsing the political arena, 
with a shower of books, articles, and pamphlets written 
in a consciously Conservative spirit While different wint- 
ers go to different sources for inspiration — Aristotle, St 
Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, Calvin, Hooker, Metter- 
nich, Coleridge, John Adams, Calhoun, Henry Adams, Bab- 
bitt, More, and T S Eliot all have their disciples among 
American Conservatives — Burke is the one man of the 
tradition who is treated universally with respect and even 
affection Indeed, the revival of hts reputation for politi- 
cal sagacity runs far beyond the tiny circle of Conserva- 
tives A fascinating by-product of the conservative up- 
surge of the postwar years has been the re-mtroduchon 
of Burke as a serious thinker into courses in political the- 
ory at colleges throughout America 

Let us turn now to look briefly at the new Conserva- 
tives If they can be as many-tongued and. factious on fine 
points of doctrine as any collection of Liberals, they are 
none the less united by an intense conviction that the 
American conservative must be led back to Conservatism 
If they may never have the influence on the American 
mind, or even on the politics of the Right, that ey n*us 
have occasionally dreamed of having, they have already 
won themselves considerably more than a footnote m his- 

tones of Amencan thought . 

The first in fame, if Dot quite in point o[ tune, is RusseJJ 
Kirk, independent onto oi men and manners who salhes 
forth defiantly, wrth both pen and lecture-notes . from In. 
ancestral home m Mecosta, ® jf? l 

toes of innovation h.p and thigh AM"**** “ 
written a small shelf of bools in demmo of wh, be calls 
"defeeated Lrberahsm.- his major mirk. The 
Mind (.use), ,s still fa and asvay Ins most solid ccombu 
ton to the revival of Conservatism In ■ design a schofa y 
histoiy ol the BnrUan t — J £££*. ZZ 
ica, in essence 1 is P d bbn g civilization, or at 

Srt tot'e mS wto do ,U dimUng lid talking, that die 

Si C^ervTe tradition bas neve, been more relevant 



than at this very moment in history In this book and all 
his others Kirk rings the familiar Conservative changes 
with enthusiasm and eloquence the universal moral 
order supported and sanctioned by organized religion, the 
imperfect and largely immutable nature of man, the ne- 
cessity of social classes and orders, the folly of attempts at 
leveling by force of law, the inseparability of liberty and 
property, the excellence of aristocracy, the limited reach 
of reason and consequent importance of traditions and in- 
stitutions, the uncertainty of progress except through 
prescription, the necessity of diffusing political and social 
power, the equilibrium of rights and responsibilities, the 
conservative mission of education, the primacy of the or- 
ganic community, the beauties of social stability and har- 
mony, the final dignity and inviolability of the human 
personality, the pleasures of the Conservative mood, the 
superiority of the Conservative mind, and the gravity of 
the Conservative mission He does not ring them, be it 
noted, in a social vacuum Kirk is a Conservative in taste 
and temper as well as in doctrine, the vision of the Good 
Society that he carries in his mind's eye is old Concord 
rather than new Detroit, gentle Charleston rather than 
churlish Birmingham, obstinate St Andrews rather than 
faddish Harlow New Town 

As a man who hates change as heartily as reform, who 
is barely more comfortable with the social products of 
Ceneral Motors than with the political plans of the United 
Automobile Workers, Kirk has been granted a surprisingly 
oity status among the literary heroes of ultra-conserva- 
tism He is, for example, the favorite political theorist of 
enator Barry Goldwater, a fact that proves one, or per- 
ha P s of two thmgs that Senator Goldwater has not 
read The Conservative Mind, or that Kirk is so lavish and 
quotable w his own attacks on the Left that he must be 
* us doctrinal and cultural eccentricities and be 
tv n m ran ^ s those who cannot forgive Franklin 
oosevelt It has been, in any case, a remarkably easy 
— mCn Goldwater and William F Buckley, jr 
an almost any corporation executive one can name — ■ 
clasp hands with Kirk across the gulf that yawns widely 


between Sumnenan individualism and Burkean Conserva- 
tism, between a view of life that he scorns as "Bentham- 
ite'' and a View that I have heard one of his admirers 
describe privately as "Luddite” The shopworn saying 
that politics makes strange bedfellows comes alive in the 
sight of men who drive new Cadillacs and Jaguars joining 
forces with a man who is content with a 1930 Chevrolet, 
of men who look forward to the next great expansion of 
American industry singing praises to a man whose spiritual 
home is the crumbling castle of a Scottish laird Kirk, it 
seems to me, maintains contact with the conservatism of 
Cold water and General Motors only because most of his 
friends refuse to pay him the compliment that most of his 
critics have paid him richly the chewing, swallowing, and 
digesting of his books Perhaps it is just as well they do 
not read him carefully, for what would they think of an 
ally who can write, 

I type these sentences on my great-uncle Raymonds 
typewriter, an L C Smith No 1, area 1907, per. 
haps my heir will use it after me A profound sense 
of continuity, and the consciousness of living among 
things that do not pensh, tend to convince a man 
that Creation is good 

It appears that Kirk, in his honest moments, is a man 
who has lost all patience with the course of American de- 
velopment in almost every field from art to politics, and 
that, as a man passionately intent on restoration rather 
than conservation, he stands as far outside the mam {j^ 
of American conservatives as did Fisher Ames in his 
days and Henry Adams in his The resultant ddemni^ 
this Burkean Conservative is distressing to observe 
wants desperately to defend the traditions and institute 
of his country, yet most of those he chenshes are g 0Qg 
forever He seeks to cultivate the Conservatne roo&i ^ 
reverence and contentment, yet he sounds like a rad ;ca j 
m his attacks on what is now, for better or wors^ 
American way of life With his great mentor Burke h e 
fesses to despise ideology, yet he is himself forced by ,1 
loneliness of his intellectual and temperamental 



to be an unvarnished ideologue Kirk himself once diag- 
nosed the uncomfortable position he occupies in a Liberal 
world by admitting that “the conservative, in our time, 
must be prepared for the role of Don Quixote,” which 
raises the question whether, for all his traditionalism, Don 
Quixote could be classed as anything but a fabulous reac- 
tionary There is a point beyond which the man of con- 
servative temper can push his nostalgia only at peril of 
losmg contact with the real world of political and social 
conservatism After several abortive attempts in recent 
years to give political advice to his large audience, Kirk 
has now acknowledged his own alienation from American 
conservatism by concentrating his fire on the forces of 
innovation and deterioration in the field of education It is 
the hens of John Dewey, not those of Franklin D Roose- 
velt, for whom he now reserves his most eloquent stric- 

All in all, I must in candor and admiration repeat the 
judgment I made of Russell Kirk in the first edition of this 
book. Useful and refreshing a critic of the American style 
and purpose as he has been, he has the sound of “a man 
bom one hundred and fifty years too late and m the wrong 
country Since Henry Adams acknowledged that his own 
birth came six hundred years too late and in an even 
wronger country — and since we could scarcely imagine 
American letters without him— Kirk need have no fear 
o eing barred from a high place m the histones yet to 
C t ^' e “rt^ectual ferments of postwar Amer- 

ica f his is not a doctrine to be followed, it is certainly 
one to be understood and, if only for its eloquent obsti- 
nacy, respected 

Viereck, poet and professor of history at Mt Hol- 
yo e ege, is another self-conscious Conservative who 
as ound it the better part of wisdom to concentrate his 
acn fo r tradition-oriented criticism in a field several 
removes from politics Caught between the urge to live 
ifrd ( P nnci P^ es *>f his trail-blazmg Conservatism Rects- 
'*949) and a Tory-democratic preference for men 
> e tevenson to men like Eisenhower, he has withdrawn 
rom e platform, on which he had become a familiar fig- 


e ui the most unlikely parts of Amenca, and returned to 
the study, there to write verse and drama in his breezy 
yet essentially traditionalist and form-respecting style An 
eccentric from the start — he claims to have been in- 
spired first of all by Mettemich rather than by Burke 

J iertc k has chosen consciously to act on his own advice 
In America the conservative today can best start by be- 
ing unpolitical " Yet his books and articles remain behmd 
as 30 imposing, if somewhat Hemy-Mooreish monument 
to what he saluted as the "revolt against revolt,” and no 
one can read his Conservatism Revisited, or even his whim- 
sical The Unadjusted Man, without being reminded of the 
continuing vitality of many principles of the Burkean tra- 
dition The Conservative attack on Liberalism for “ethical 
relativism" owes much of its sbng to Peter Viereck 

No other participant in the revival of Conservatism has 
contributed quite so much energy as Kirk or fire as Vie- 
reck to demonstrating the relevance of Burke, Adams, 
Colendge, and other half-forgotten heroes for the ethical, 
cultural, and even political quarrels of our time Yet these 
h»o would be the first to acknowledge that other men 
have stood stoutly by their sides, the last to deny that 
other books may yet be written to eclipse the deserved 
fame of The Conservative Mind and Conseroofism Revis- 
ited In order to get some idea of the fertility of the new 
Conservatism, let us at least take brief note of several other 
Americans who have written and are still writing as critics 
of both the Left and Liberalism 
Francis G Wilson of Illinois, who puts The Case fo r 
Conservatism (1951) in essentially religious terms and 
calls for a new awareness of “the tragedy of American 

Richard M Weaver of Chicago (but a devoted son of 
Western North Carolina), whose Ideas have Conse- 
quences (1948), The Ethics of Rhetoric (1953), and oc- 
casional writings in Modem Age — “a Conservative i*. 
view” founded in 1957 by Russell Kirk— bespeafc 4 
Conservatism that owes much to Plato but perhaps e,^ 
more to a “complete disenchantment" with the pres^ 
tuousness and vulgarity of Liberalism, and whose re^j 



writings have become increasingly concerned with the 
debasing effects of "mass plutocracy”, 

R A Nisbet of California, whose The Quest for Com- 
munity (1953) is a relentless yet good-tempered exposure 
of both the sociological and ideological fallacies of run- 
away individualism, 

John Hallowell of Duke, whoso The Moral Foundations 
of Democracy (1954) is essentially an attempt to ransom 
the democratic ethic from its long association with Liberal- 

Raymond English of Kenyon, who has earned the mes- 
sage of Burke from his native England into the heart of 
America, and who has done more than any other political 
thinker to construct a Conservative theory of the state, 
Frank S Meyer, spinner of “Principles and Heresies” in 
the National Review, who has turned back from the radi- 
calism of his early years to expound a theory of restora- 
tions Conservatism that emphasises “reason and the au- 
tonomy of the person” rather than "continuity and 
authority' as the basis of an effective opposition "to the 
prevailing relativism and value nihibsm, collectivism and 

James Burnham, another rehabilitated radical, whose 
profoundly pessimistic and lmutationist Congress and the 
mertcan Tradition (1959) is a far cry from his famous 
1 he Managerial Revolution, and a paean to the legislative 
way of hfe and politics, 

William M McGovern and David S. Collier, co-au- 
ors of Radtcals and Conservatives (1957), a handbook 
tor even-tempered Burkeans, 

Anthony Hamgan, Ross Hoffman, and Frederick D Wil- 
f w k° have seized upon the implied Conservatism 
. 0 c P°htical theory — of which more presently — to 
e ™ ost S€n °us questions about liberal democracy, 
i'eter Dmcker, a troubled Conservative who follows 
S ams rat her than Henry in advocating radical 
U 0UT S0Cla * an( l industrial discontents, 

. ^ ves of the Baltimore Sun , whose poetic tnb- 

p 6 0 enalor Taft proves that the spurt of Thomas Green 
Fessenden is not yet dead 


OM Roundhead, stalwart legislative oak. 

Standing this latter day, still firm and true 
To curb the crown, the king our fathers broke — 

To spur our vigilance, our watch renew! 

Restless and bold, executory pnde 
Chafed now as then to shake off rein and bit 
Steady the ComrAons men must fend and bide. 

Not sapping power, but disciplining 1 1 
So stood you plain, without heroic charm 
Like Pi /m before you, virtue was your arm 
In you, like Pym, the sober patriot saw 
Virtue upgtrdmg Freedom under Law 

This list could be extended downward to include such 
eloquent, self-proclaimed Conservatives (or, perhaps 
wore accurately, anh-Liberals) as Eliseo Vivas, WiUmoore 
Kendall, Revilo Oliver, J A Lukacs, David McCord 
Wnght, George de B Huszar, Donald A Zoll, Stanton 
Evans, W T Couch, W H Chamberlin, Stanley Parry, 
James Jackson Kilpatrick, Cerhart Niemeyer, and the 
late Russell Davenport, Bernard Iddings Bell, and 
Cordon K Chalmers — and outward to include such 
distinguished and dissimilar men as Herbert Agar, 
Daniel J Boorstm, Harry Cideonse, Crane Brinton, Wil- 
liam Ernest Hocking, George Kennan, Robert M Hutch- 
ms, Hans J Morgenthau, Mortimer Adler, McGeorge 
Bundy, Walter F Bems, jr , Arthur Bestor, Robert Frost, 
Henry M Wnston, Louis Hacker, Allan Nevins, Samuel 
P Huntington, Samuel Eliot Monson, John K Jessup, Ad- 
lai Stevenson, Leo Strauss, August Heckschcr, Henry C 
Wallich, Frank H Knight, John M Clark, and above all 
Walter Lippmann and Rcinhold Niebuhr Few of these 
men are Conservatives and even fewer conservatives, yet 
all have been heard to voice some of the central ideas of 
the Burkean tradition in the debates over education, pol- 
Hies, culture, end religion in tile past to, 
then spec.,) .nicest, or polrtrcal aShatrons, they have ,11 
done their bits, and often done them with more flare than 
the announced Conservatives, m the conunumg teacuon 
agarnsl the eacesses ot Ltberahso Yet .1 is the Conserve- 


hves like Kirk, Weaver, and Wilson who have belabored 
Liberalism in season and out, and who must therefore he 
given a very special place in the intellectual history of the 
American Right There are, I repeat, conspicuous varia- 
tions in inspiration and aspiration among the Conservative 
intellectuals, jet the differences that divide, say, the ideo- 
logical Conservatism of Kirk from the sociological Con- 
servatism of Nisbct or the Aristotelian Conservatism of 
Hallow ell from the Platonic Conservatism of Weaver are 
shallow ditches compared with the deep gulf, m style if 
not in politics, that divides them all from the laissez-faire 
conservatism of a Hoover or Coldwater And what divides 
them most clearly from most American conservatives is an 
outspoken distaste for the excesses, vulgarities, and dislo- 
cations of the industrial way of life, a deep-seated antip- 
athy toward the undiluted Jeffersonian tradition, a conse- 
quent emphasis on our European and English heritage, a 
peculiar affection for Burke and John Adams (but not for 
Hamilton or Spencer or Sumner), and a willingness to 
think and write m the spirit of conscious Conservatism 

In a symposium on the South in the Fall, 1958 ,ssue 
Modern Age, Russell Kirk saluted that beleaguered terri- 
tory, or at least the white people in it, as “the Permanence 
of the American nation", and he wondered out loud 'hovV 
much longer” the South, the “defender of prin- 
ciples immensely ancient" and of "conventions that yet 
have meaning," would be permitted to throw its full con- 
servative weight into the balance of American social 
forces While, this is not a sentiment in which all Conserv- 
atives, even those who are politically ultra-conservative, 
would join with enthusiasm, the actions and reactions of 
the white South clearly make more emotional, historical, 
and visceral sense to men well over on the Right than they 
do to the great body of Americans who occupy the re- 
maining two-thirds of the political spectrum The South- 
ern style and purpose have, moreover, become clearly 
more conservative in the jears of crisis since Brown Y 
Board of Education (1954) This Southern conservatism, 
it should be added, extends far beyond the question of 


race relations to all manner of political, social, and cultural 
issues Neither labor organizers nor dissenting professors, 
»<» er welfare workers nor abstract expressionists, get 
much of a welcome in the South today 
There /s nothing especially new about this situation 
, e South has always been the most conservative area in 
e mted States The dominance of agriculture and rural 
'mg, the homogeneity of the white population and its 
more visible organization into classes, the extraordinary 
strength of family tics, the no less extraordinary hold of 
religion, the migration of white and Negro dissidents to 
other parts of the country, the lack of material means to 
carry through public reforms, the special role of the small- 
town lawjers in politics and public affairs, above all the 
persistence of the racial problem and the sense of tragedy 
animated by the memory of the Lost Cause — these are 
only the most obvious explanations for the intense conserv- 
atism that has permeated this region The conservatism of 
the South is a strange brand, to be sure- It is, for example, 
far more casual about violence and disrespectful of law 
than conservatism should be That it is none the less con- 
servatism can hardly be denied, that it has been given a 
sharp spur by the events of the last four years cannot 
be denied at all The people of the white South have re- 
acted to the real or imagined threats of "revolution’* to 
their way of life exactly as people of conservative temper 
and purposes have reacted always and everywhere to i ev- 
olutions — by closing ranks that might otherwise be 
harshly divided, by suppressing the voices of dissent and 
thus even of moderation, and by granting a hearing to 
extremists who play on their worst fears and prejudices 
Under the pressure of events in the South today middling 
conservatives have turned toward ultra-conservatism and 
ultra-conservatives toward pseudo-conserv absm, while the 
traditional conservative arts of compromise, prudential 
action, and "stealing the Whigs’ clothes” have fallen into 
disrepute and disuse 

This mounting crisis m society and politics has had a 
sharp impact on the world of ideas Men who for years 
had given only passing thought to political and consbhi- 

22 $ 


tional theory have been pounng forth books, tracts, 
pamphlets, editorials, and speeches in defense of the 
Southern way of life Most of these men, one finds in talk- 
ing to them or reading them, continue to employ the 
rhetoric of Jefferson, especially of Jefferson the states- 
righter and anti-statist The Southern Right, too, remains 
the comfortable prisoner of the dogmas of laissez-faire con- 
servatism, which is one reason why its case is listened to 
in many parts of the North with perhaps more respect 
than it deserves Indeed, on every political, constitutional, 
oreconoimc issue except the racial problem, where their 
obduracy and even demagoguery unsettle many of their 
nends in the North, the conservative leaders of the South 
are scarcely distinguishable from conservatives in other 
parts of the Union If they take special attitudes on their 
special problem, so, too, do conservativ es in Vermont or 
Noitfi Dakota or Oregon or Kansas on theirs In the final 
reckoning, there is precious little to divide Senator Byrd 
from Senator Capehart or General Clark from General 
MacArthur The accidents of history made Byrd a Demo- 
cra and Capehart a Republican, but this division is hardly 
V1S1 e ™ dle,r speeches and voting records or in their 
views o human relations, economics, politics, and the 

J° me S ° ut ^emers, most of them poets, editors, and pro- 
lX°ri rS . ra .f er ^ n Pte**™ and businessmen, have re- 
c ^ a en E e of integration by seizing upon Cal- 
r ’ even Burke himself rather than Jef- 

n 'J , e ull Conservative tradition has been given a 
^L b f B ® Soutf i, and although the men who sub- 
thpm consctousl y are few, many other men listen to 
nemta!? “J teresl respect It has no more chance of 
SSSS*? 6 m f ds of the «"»* hod y of Southern con- 
eralism r, tk” i* °* ^°° senu ig the stranglehold of Lib- 
that wa n 6 ^ mencan tradition, jet it is a phenomenon 
that we cannot pass lightly by 

Souffi tmt ^‘ revlva l of Conservatism in the 

events tU™ runiun S for over thirty years, and the 
atShn.t?!u PaSt decade have serve d only to call fresh 
e men who got the revival under way. the 


22 9 

so-called “Tennessee agrarians * Beginning as the "JW-. 
five Poets" of Nashville m the 1920's, these conservatoe' 
intellectuals, few but unusually articulate, were driven to 
social and political analysis by the coming of the Great 
Depression Though most of their writings in this vein 
were occasional and ephemeral, they did produce one 
remarkable little book called Til Tale My Stand First 
published m 1930 and reissued m 1931, this book is a 
senes of essays by twelve like-minded Southerners in- 

cluding Stark Young, John Crowe Ransom, H C N«on 
Allen Tate, Donald Davidson, and Robert Penn Warren-^ 
intent upon supporting “a Southern way of hfe against 
what may be called the American or prevailing way." The 
case, both sentimental and practical, for the agranan 
South has never been put more directly and eloquently 
and never, even by Calhoun, in a more outspokenly Co n ’ 
servabve style This case was also put, with fascinating 
variations, m Who Oums America? (1936), The Attack 
on Leviathan (1938), and a scattering of articles by Her- 
bert Agar, Frank Owsley, Alien Tate, and others m the 
dl-fated American Review (1933-1937) 

If we may for the moment consider the authors of TU 
Take My Stand as one person — and it is essential to note 
that all of them agreed unreservedly to a "statement of 
principles" before going their ways in separate essays^, 
we may ask just who is this man, this agrarian Conserve 
bve, and with what assumptions and principles does h e 
go to the defense of his beloved South? 

He is, first of all, an agranan because he is shocked h 
the impact of industrialism on the mores, manners, 
culture of his section, and because he is determine^ ^ 
defiance of all the chambers of commerce that exult m jj. 
industrialization of the South, to maintain the pmna^ 
agriculture and the way of life it encourages “An 
lan society" he writes, 

is hardly one that has no use at all for Industrie, t 
professional vocation, for scholars and artists, ^ , 0f 
the life of cities Technically, perhaps, an agra^ j* 
ciety is one m which agriculture is the leading v 
hon, whether for wealth, for pleasure, or for 



— a form of labor that Is pursued with intelligence 
and leisure, and that becomes the model to which 
the other forms approach as well as they may Bui 
an agrarian regime will be secured readily enough 
where the superfluous industries are not allowed to 
nse against it The theory of agrarianism is that the 
culture of the sod is the best and most sensitive of 
vocations, and that therefore it should luve the eco- 
nomic preference and enlist the maximum number of 

In such a society, tho agrarian argues, the values of the 
people arc more solid, their religion more genuine, and 
their culture more creative, while “the amenities of life 
— "manners, conversation, hospitality, sympathy, family 
life, romantic love the social exchanges which re- 
veal and develop sensibility m human affairs" — arc prac- 
ticed with more taste and ft cling 

He is a Conservative because, disliking the nature and 
pace of industrial “progress,"" h'e is spiritually willing and 
intellectually able to frame his dislike in avowedly Con- 
servative terms His ideal seems to be the yeoman republic 
of Jefferson rather than the “Creek democracy" of Cal- 
houn, and in support of this ideal he Spins out a political 
and social theory in which ethical aristocracy, social har- 
mony, community, property, religion, contentment, rev- 
erence, order, continuity, and tradition are warmly 
praised, and equalitarianism, progress, majority rule, rug* 
ged individualism, and materialism are either searchmgly 
questioned or roundly damned And being a true Conserv- 
ative, he is as concerned to prevent changes in his way of 
life brought about by the nse of industry as he is to frus- 
trate reforms engineered in behalf of Negroes 
When Ransom, Tate, Davidson, and the rest first arose 
to combat the forces of innovation in the South, they were 
able to tiptoe gingerly, if not entuely delicately, around 
the nasty question of race and concentrate their attack 
on the advocates of “an industrial Dixie ” Now, however, 
they can tiptoe no longer, and it is rev eahng that Donald 
Davidson, the ranking agrarian Still left m the South, has 


* 3 * 

come to see a greater threat to his section in Brown v 
Board of Education than be ever saw in the Coca-Cola 

The questions arise how sincerely do men like David- 
son and his spiritual heir, Richard M Weaver, believe in 
the embattled cause of Southern agrarianism? What are 
they actually prepared to do in behalf of the way of life 
they cherish so deeply, and which is, after all, being 
changed even more rapidly by industrialization than it is 
by integration? Do they want to unmake history, and do 
they think they can? I have put these questions directly to 
several of these men, and Uuir answers lend substantial 
support to the impression one gets from reading their 
book they are neither hopeless romantics nor feckless re- 
actionaries They are fully aware of the irreversibility of 
history, including the history that has been made since 
1930 Certainly they no longer seek or expect a retreat 
to 1930 or 1900, least of all to i860 They do believe that 
the rural South has been the peculiar nursery of the abid- 
ing values that make art, life, and religion possible, and 
that these values can even now act as leaven to the sour, 
unattractive mass of modem industrialism Since values, 
however worthy, cannot exist indefinitely without institu- 
tional support, the agrarians propose to halt the runaway 
of industrialization in the South, to bolster the economic, 
political, and moral position of the farm population, and to 
resist the inroads into Southern culture and education of 
ideas and techniques they despise 

Whether they can transfer the best values of the South 
that is gone to the South that is arising is a question open 
to senous doubt What is dear is that the spint of agrar- 
ianism is not completely dead nor the ways of industrial- 
ism universally accepted in this country, and that a small 
band of men has expressed the old agrarian spint in a 
consciously Conservative manner So conscious, indeed, U 
tlie Conservatism of the remaining agranans tlut David- 
son now sees them as fighters for "tl« cau«* of civilized 
socuty, as we have known it in tho Western \\ orVj, 
against the new barbarism of science and technology con- 
trolled by tho modem power state. In tins sense the cause 


of the South was and is the cause of Western civilization 
Once again we are reminded of the gulf, which yawns in 
the South just as widely as it does in the rest of America, 
between the tiny Conservative minority and the vast con- 
sea able majority Now what land of man, we can hear 
the spokesmen of American conservatism wondering, 
would talk seriously about the “barbarism'’ of science and 
technology? And the answer is a committed Conservabve 
who is not worried about being popular. 

The story of Conservatism in modem America would not 
be complete without some brief mention of the political 
theory of Roman Catholicism One approaches this the- 
ory with hesitant steps There are, by latest count, more 
than forty million Catholics in the United States, and 
their attitudes cover most points on the political spectrum. 
At the same time, there is a body of primary principles 
that forms the philosophical basis for most social pro- 
nouncements of the American hierarchy, is taught confi- 
dently in Catholic colleges, and is expressed in one form 
or another by most Catholic polibcal thinkers These 
thinkers, 1 have learned by inquiry, are charactcnsbcally 
American in their wide choice of labels or refusal to be 
labeled at all If some, like Anthony Hamgan and Fred- 
erick D, Wilhelmsen, have joined with delight in the as- 
sault on Liberalism, others, like John Cogley and Father 
John Courtney Murray, have kept secular faith with Jef- 
ferson In any case, one cannot miss the close kinship of 
Catholicism and Conservabsm in such authoritative exam- 
ples of Catholic political thought as Ryan and Bolands 
Catholic Principles of Politics, Ross Hoffman’s The Spirit 
of Politics and the Future of Freedom , Martin Hillen- 
brand’s Power and Morals, J F Cronin’s Catholic Social 
Principles, or some of the papers published by the Natural 
Law Institute at Notre Dame Without attempting a defin- 
itive summary of the well ordered political theory ex- 
pounded by Fathers Rjan and Boland, I would point to 
certain proposihons that they, and most Catholic thinkers, 
state without equivocabon I frame these in the language 



of Conservative political theory rather than Catholic the- 

A higher law guides man and limits government 
The nature of man is immutably mixed, politically 
speaking, sinfulness and weakness are its most notable 

Natural rights carry with them natural responsibilities, 
the crux of the latter is "the complete observance of the 
moral law” 

Civil rights and responsibilities are similarly balanced 
Liberty is basically "the freedom to do what is good ard 

Morality is consequently the basis of se!f-go\ emment 
The state, which consists of society and government, is 
necessary and divinely ordained 

Society must be stable, moral, disciplined, united, and 

Institutions, especially the divine church and divinely 
willed family, are essential to the proper functioning of so- 

The nght to own property, a natural right, is essential 
to personal freedom and social stability 

Social classes are inevitable, acceptance of this social 
truth, however, is never to obscure the eternal truth that 
men are equal in the sight of God 

The so-called “class struggle" is wicked and unnatural 
Education is essentially conservative in nature and mls- 

The primary functions' of government are to-promote 
public and private morality (especially by supporting reli- 
gion), establish mstice, resolve conflicts among individuals 
and classes, regulate enterprise, protect old institution* 
and encourage the forming of new ones, and generally 
promote human welfare. . , , , , , 

The solution to relations between the divinely ordained 
state and the inviolable individual 1* neither arrogant au- 
thontanamsm nor unbndlod individualism. 

If to these propositions we add the church* andent ir»- 
ristence on thi primacy of religion. long standing hostility 
to the Liberal promise of salvation on earth, and recent 



emphasis on loyalty and love of country, we come, I 
think, to this firm conclusion, the political theory of Ca- 
tholicism, even as shaped to the realities of American life 
and dictates of the American tradition, re mams an essen- 
tially Conservabve body of principles The existence of 
Mineral theory does not force the thoughts or acbons 
of Catholic Americans into one constricting mold In the 
realm of social philosophy, some Catholics dislike the in- 
usta present, others celebrate the machine and all its 
pr nets In the realm of political sloganeering, some Cath- 

0 cs ead dieers for rugged individualism, others sing the 
eau es of collective reform Catholics are heard to voice 

s arp fferences over the supposed dangers of govern- 
mail mtemntion, the allmsablc limits of freedom of ex- 
pression, t e details of state-church relations, or the rela- 
S ^ ln ^ cor P°rabons and unions in the American 
nnl.f, 0n ^ C »i.^ Stem no Catholic thinker denies that the 

1 C , e ? r y °/ conscious Cathohcism comes much 

, does the American tradibon to the pnnciples 

Conservatlsm Indeed, if an American were to 
fv. e Y a ® n bsh visitor, "Are the pnnciples of the 

j y. , a ve ^ a dibon taught anywhere m the States to- 
Za 'u C ? U , d anSwcr ,n aU honesty "Yes, imperfectly 
i .. ^ ue y none the less sympathebcally m Catho- 
lie allege, and iimve, sites all os„ L count*- 
servahim ° COurse ’ 3 %ei 7 lon g way from saying that Con- 
that man ' S 1 t ? aj0r force 111 Ame ncan educabon— or, for 
r V ’ m Amencan culture and pohbcs Fix the outer 
sihlv ° enc an Conservatism as generously as we pos- 
who ad i S£>eClfieall y to ndude all those men of ideas 
bons ami* ° pro ^ oun d disenchantment with the assump- 
tjons and promises of Liberahsm-and we are sbll left 
of intellect f COrporal s guard m contrast to the regiment 
Who T, t0 menbon army of men of affairs. 

Those Am orta ^y at ^ome with the Amencan tradibon 
con°l^ r nCanS Wh ° Speak wnte as genuine, self- 

z: 11 C Z ™ ^ L ° b “ '» 

ideas a m,. a tUI ^‘ eccen bic mrnonty m the world of 
pohbcs Understood uunonty in the world of nght-wmg 


the future of 

O R 

A Modest Vote of Thanks for 
the Thankless Persuasion 


AJoke than seventy years ago Woodrow Wilson said of 
tfla American future. 

America is now sauntering through her resources 
and through the mazes of her politics w ith easy non- 
chalance, but presently there will come a time when 
she wall bo surprised to find herself grown old, — a 
country crowded, strained, perplexed, — when she 
will bo obliged to fall back upon her conservatism, 
obliged to pull herself together, adopt a new regi- 
men of fife, husband her resources, concentrate her 
strength, steady her methods, sober her views, re- 
strict her vagaries, trust her best, not her average 

The tunc foretold by Wilson is now upon us in America, 
*«d we seem destined to go on living in it as far as the eye 
t>f tmsgituisca esa see The eudeuce p/kj up on eiery 
side to warn us that we arc crowded, strained, and per- 



plexcd, that many of our vaganes have got out of con- 
trol, and that we stand in desperate need of steady meth- 
ods, sober views, and our best members 

One piece of evidence, surely the most interesting to 
readers of this booh, is the changing character of Ameri- 
can political thought The well-remembered events of 
the recent past and the dimly-apprehended challenge of 
the immediate future have caused a stiffening of attitudes 
and assumptions all across the spectrum of American pol- 

Liberalism, on one hand, has gone "tough-minded ” Al- 
though its approach to the problems of an exploding pop- 
ulation, a stuttering economy, a formless culture, and a 
revolutionary world continues along the path of social in- 
novation, it now proposes to follow this path purposefully 
rather than nonchalantly, doggedly rather than cheerfully, 
with an eye on the pitfalls at its feet rather than on the 
stars overhead The progressive ideas of the 1930*5, some 
of our most eloquent liberals are now heard to insist, are 
simply not viable in the turmoil of the 1960’s Whatever 
wonders it may have worked in the Great Depression, the 
p ilosophy of the New Deal has become a stale mixture of 
atuous optimism and casual opportunism In the world of 
1 eas, as in the world of politics, one can sense the gath- 
ering of the forces of American progressivism for the next 
great opportunity — which did not, after all the excite- 
ment present itself in i960 — and it is a gathering marked 
by sobriety and skepticism 

Conservabsm, on the other, has come out of hiding and 
ca e for a confident stance, again purposeful rather than 
nonchalant, on the ancient ways, which are, it is argued 
s enuously, capable of bearing almost any load that a 
grea and growing nation chooses to place upon them 
onionced that the new liberalism of Galbraith, Niebuhr, 
n* 1 ,! t, , Cr 1S not ^ un g but the old liberalism of Roosevelt 
opkins inflated to absurd proportions and painted 
at l* 6 “ Ct T ,r°' ors ' men of the Right are expounding 
eas a half-dozen brands of self-conscious conservatism 
, ve been just so many unpopular drugs on 
6 ec * ua ^ ma *ket a generation ago In the world of 


ideas, as in the world of politics, one can see the gath- 
ering of the forces of American conservatism to meet the 
renewed assaults of liberalism 
It remains to be seen whether the manv-tongued 
spokesmen of the new conservatism are to have even a 
raction of the influence on Amencan life that was worked 
by spokesmen of the old progressivism like John Dewey 
ana Charles A Beard, yet already it is clear that their 
entry into the arena of public discussion has been an event 
of some consequence m the histoiy of Amencan thought 
o longer are the meaningful debates over education, cul- 
and human relations monopolized by men of either a 
nberal or radical persuasion, no longer are conservatives 
wughed right out of contention when they speak of form, 
tradition, and discipline To the contrary, they often find, 
to their mingled amusement and irritation, that thur oppo- 
nents are just as quick with the timeless truths of conserv- 
atism, even of Conservatism, as any Kirk or Weav er or Wil- 
son While the dominant style of Amencan thought re- 
mains rather ostentatiously Liberal, conservatism is once 
again a force to be reckoned with in. culture and politics 
Above the babble of the voices of the Left and Center in 
the academic and cultural precincts of modem Amcnca 
VV{ * can now hear, for the first time in many years, the 
voices of the Right More wonderful than that, some of 
the clearest voices of the Left are also speaking a language 
that Franklin Roosevelt and many of his friends would 
have thought to be downright old-fashioned 

It scarcely seems the part of bravery to foresee no sud- 
den check or reversal in the glacial shift of the Amencan 
intellect toward the Center and beyond toward the Right 
Trustworthy observers have pointed to several develop- 
ments that are making it easier for ordinary men to 1 ne 
as conservatives, and thus for extraordinary men to think 
as conservatives, a socwl structure not quite so plastic as 
it was a half-century ago, an increased emphasis on status 
and parallel reduction m uiterclass mobility, especially 
“upward mobility through occupation", an economy that 
is maturing in many areas if suif formless in some others, 
and that is regularized and stabilized without being so- 


cialized, the decline in individualism and nonconformity, 
in hard fact if not in happy slogan, the new gains of organ- 
ized religion, the growing importance of groups mi 
group action, a quickened interest in security, whether 
won through savings, insurance, pensions, or law, the ever 
widening diffusion of property, the pervading air of nos- 
talgia and of deep satisfaction with our institutions, mid 
consequent distrust of the untrammeled intellect, the dis- 
crediting of the extreme Left for its flirtations with Com- 
munism, and above all the pressures and irritations of hfe 
in a country threatened, as was Burke’s England, by an 
enemy armed with ideas as well as guns 

Some of these facts and trends are primarily causes, oth- 
ers are primarily effects of a resurgence of the Right 
Taken together, they furnish incontestable evidence that 
our season of conservatism has jet to run its course 
Whether they are to be welcomed or resisted is not at 
issue here Most Americans, one may assume, find some 
of them wholesome, others frightening, and most inevi- 
table At the end of Chapter VI, I rendered an account of 
recent developments in the thinking of the Right, and here 
I have sought simply to state my belief that massive 
forces are canying these developments even further to- 
ward self-conscious, self-confident conservatism 

The concern of this book has been ideas rather than prac- 
tices, and upon this concern it must continue to concen- 
trate. Yet in America, as I have insisted, ideas arise out 
of practices, and in all countries, as we have learned, a 
conservative way of hfe must go before and shape a con- 
servative pattern of thought The future of conservatism 
as an intellectual force in America depends to an over- 
whelming extent on the future of conservatism as a way of 
hvmg, doing, and managing the affairs of men We have 
already pointed to conditions that favor the further devel- 
opment of political and social conservatism, and thus the 
propagation of conservative ideas Let us now take note of 
some possible obstructions m the way of these trends, 
some practical difficulties that could come in time to de- 
moralize the ranks of intellectual conservatism to such an 


tttcnt that iu summer soldier* might desert in droves to 
the enemy on Ox, Left, Us Junicnwl campaigner* turn 
inujnJ and seek refuge in a crabbed pseud ex-on serva- 
ton, and its millions of followers bo left to fend for them- 
J”* 1 '*? ^ lC1C " 15 * 400 fhctn, arc the outlines of the 
broadly inauspicious situation that face* those who intend 
to be thinking censers 4 In cs in tho years ahead 

In the Erst place, they must continue to bear the burden 
that such conservatives have borne at all times in all coun- 
tries of tho West There are, that is to *ay , congenital dis- 
abilities attached to the self-consciously conservative 
position, and those who choose to stand upon it openly 
must be prepared to suffer these disabilities bravely If it 
u one of tho easiest dungs in the world to be a conserva- 
tive of temperament or of possession or even of practice, 
it 11 one of die hardest to be a conservative of die intellect 
The man who makes a profession of conservatism opens 
himself knowingly to charges dint his heart is callous, 
hu spirit mean, his motive* selfish, and his thinking nega- 
tive, that he is a friend in boast but a foe in fact of liberty 
and justice. The reasonable man finds conservatism hard 
to embrace because lie u asked to distrust reason, tho 
kindly man because he must counsel paticnco in the face 
of evil and suffering, the sensitive man because he expose* 
himself to the slings of all the sentimental Left and the 
arrows of all the reactionary Right. And when any one of 
these men come* to argue the ease for political and social 
conservatism, ho finds himself uncomfortably on die de- 
fensive — branded a “reactionary* if he stands fast against 
the proposals of the reformers, a "mc-toocr” if he admits 
defeat with any show of grace He is almost always twenty 
>ear* behind tho onward march of the nation, ho sings the 
praises of traditions and institutions that were created in 
the first place by progrcssiv cs, if not indeed by revolution- 
aries Even when viewed in tho most favorable of lights, 
h!s role in the struggle of social forces seems quite unin- 
spired— and bangs hun few thanks from posterity or its 
historians If tho essential mission of Toryism is, as Ma- 
caulay insisted, die “defense of Whig achievements of the 
previous generation,*’ it is not one for which many dianks 



aa ZG ^’ decline m individualism and nonconformity, 
in hard fact if not in happy slogan, the new gains of organ- 
ize religion, the growing importance of groups and 
group action, a quickened interest in security, whether 
won rough savings, insurance, pensions, or law, the ever 
wi emng diffusion of property, the pervading air of nos- 
a gia and of deep satisfaction with our institutions, and 
consequent distrust of the un trammeled intellect, the dis- 
cr ting of the extreme Left for its flirtations with Com- 
munism, and above all the pressures and irritations of life 
m a country threatened, as was Burkes England, by an 
enemy armed with ideas as well as guns 

ome of these facts and trends are primarily causes, oth- 
ers are primarily effects of a resurgence of the Right 
en ogether, they furnish incontestable evidence that 
° f CGnserval,sm has yet to run its course 
issue ) tr w are to be welcomed or resisted is not at 
nf 11 Amencans > °ne may assume, find some 

table C ^ ° CS ? m f’ ol ^ ers frightening, and most inevi- 
recent rl f Cnd Chapter VI, I rendered an account of 
recent developments ,n , , . __ 

v-napter vx, i rendered an ac 
I have r °? ments m *be thinking of the Right, and here 
fo^r fl r!?l.^ to _ stat « "X belief that massive 

forre« aro"" 6 "^ simply to state my belief that massive 
ward self Can J ln S these developments even further to- 
ward self-conscious, self-confident conservatism 

tices and T ° I" been ideas rather than prac- 

trate' Yet ^ concem ,l must contmue to concen- 
of practices 1 j CnCa ’ 3S 1 ^ ave ms,stc d. 'deas arise out 
conservative ^ 'r counlT, es, as we have learned, a 
servahve °r ¥ e mUSt £° before and shape a con- 

as an mtelle °/ t ^ OUS ^ t Th e future of conservatism 
wbebuS S {0 T m Amenca depends to an over- 
livmg, doing ° ^ fulure of conservatism as a way of 
already poiSedf affairs of men We have 

opment of^nu to I COnd,Uons that favor the further devel- 
Propa^o/n Cil S0<aal ^^natism, and thus the 

J5S5? rr bve idcas Let - n ° w taie ° f 

some practical ddR^ 0 ” 5 * 111 thc way of theso tren *' 

moralize the ranks f tles could come in time to de- 
6 raDks of intellectual conservabsm to such an 


American conservatism is at best an ambiguous legacy 

In the realm of action, as I have already indicated, 
American conservatism has achieved both success and 
failure The Sign of its success is the Republic itself the 
great, free, strong America that stands before the world 
as testament to the virtues — and follies— of democracy 
and industrialism To this America the men on the Right 
have made a tremendous contribution of energy, talent, 
capital, and hope If they accepted democracy too eagerly 
and interpreted its principles too nanowly, their accept- 
ance saved our politics from much violence II they 
snapped up the Liberal tradition too thoughtlessly, they 
helped forge the unity of ideal that has been one of 
Americas peculiar strengths If they wallowed too hap- 
pily in the profits and power of industrialism, they built us 
an economic system that has raised a whole people to ma- 
terial dignity and furnished half a world with the weapons 
and tools of freedom Only if America is a failure — a point 
that few Americans would dream of conceding— can we 
say that the men on the Right were a failure, too The 
knowledge of all this should bring both comfort and inspi- 
ration to American conservatives 

There ore, however, a number of bad marks plainly vis- 
ible on the conservative record The Right, after all, has 
been our conservative half It has never denied its concern 
that things as they are be left as they are, that our institu- 
tions and values be guarded against change and revolu- 
tion The que stion may therefore be properly put has the 
Right performed the conservative mission with skill and 
success? The answer would seem to be a rueful if under- 
standing no 

The conservative, whose duty it is to bnng stability to 
the national community, stands accused of having contrib- 
uted an excessive measure of instability, because of the 
sloppmess of his thinking, the violence of his language, the 
harshness of his individualism, and the hysterical attitude 
he has too often adopted in the face of criticism and re- 
form Arthur Schlesmger, jr , has remarked There are 
always a stated number of days to save the American way 
of life * He might have added that we are always at the 



can even be expected In the game of life, for which 
Stephen Potter has now codified many of the oldest rules, 
the conservative is permanently “one-down” to the liberal 
If this is not true in England, where Conservatism seems 
to have found a special formula for political supremacy m 
its devotion to the Crown and concern for the welfare 
state, it is certainly true in almost any other democratic 
country one can think of 

One-down under the general conditions of progressive 
democracy, the conservative may be as much as three- 
down under the specific conditions of American democ- 
racy The abundance, real and potential, of the economy 
lends an air of feasibility to even the boldest programs of 
social reform The visible signs of our inventive genius 
ma e a m °ckery of the conservative's cautious hymns to 
prudence and prescription The absence of conservative 
traditions and institutions, especially of an identifiable and 
socially useful aristocracy, makes it hard for him to group 
ms forces for the struggle with the reformers The only 
s gntly weakened grip of Liberalism on the Amencan 
imagination gives his rhetoric an uncivil and even peevish 
H”® v™ 111 future, as he has through most of the 
pas , the creative conservative will continue to occupy that 
unsure position m which he is at one and the same time 
e c e sponsor of change in Amencan life, the chief Op- 
ponent o the reforms that are needed to civilize it, and 
B u e moumer * or the civilization that has gone for- 
ct ow many Henry Fords, one is bound to wonder, 
Am 3X356 m ) eari *° con, e and make over the face of 
.f nCa an ^ t ^ len s ^ek to recreate the old familiar face 
A 2 ™ u anbqUlt,es of a Greenfield Village? 

0 6r 1 burden on the conservatism of the rising gen- 
0n , ke the performance in the political and social 
e cor -servatism of the generations that have 
hmarJ t V* C * la P ter VII we took sober note of the 
idea* xr Ufe ^ mencan conservatism in the realm of 
of arh " e must bnefly at its record in the realm 
avnur f n’ *° r sure ^>' no great movement, least of all one of 
, « y conservative temper and purpose, can go about 
ess as if the past had never been, and the past of 


American conservatism is at best an ambiguous legacy 

In tie realm of action, as I have already indicated, 
American conservatism has achieved both success and 
failure The sign of its success is the Republic itself the 
great, free, strong America that stands before the world 
as testament to the virtues — and follies — of democracy 
and industrialism To this America the men on the Right 
have made a tremendous contribution of energy, talent, 
capital, and hope If they accepted democracy too eagerly 
and interpreted its principles too narrowly, their accept- 
ance saved our politics from much violence If they 
snapped up the Liberal tradition too thoughtlessly, they 
helped forge the unity of ideal that has been one of 
Amenca’s peculiar strengths If they wallowed too hap- 
pily in the profits and power of industrialism, they built us 
an economic system that has raised a whole people to ma- 
terial dignity and furnished half a world with the weapons 
and tools of freedom. Only if Amcnca is a failure— a point 
that few Americans would dream of conceding canvre 
say that the men on the Right were a failure, too The 
knowledge of all this should bring both comfort and inspi- 
ration to American conservatives 

There are, however, a number of bad marks plainly vis- 
ible on the conservative record The Right, after all, has 
been our conservative half It has never denied its concern 
that things as they are he left as they are, that our institu- 
tions and values be guarded against change and revolu- 
tion The question may therefore be properly put has the 
Right performed the conservative mission with skill and 
success? The answer would seem to be a rueful if under- 
standing no 

The conservative, whose duty it » to bnng stability to 
the national community, stands accused of having contrib- 
uted an excessive measure of instability, because of the 
sloppiness of his thinking, the violence of his language, the 
harshness of his individualism, and the hysterical attitude 
he lias too often adopted in the face of criticism and re- 
form Arthur Schlesinger, }r, has remarked There are 
always a stated number of days to save the American way 
of life” He might have added that we are always "at the 


crossroads,” even now "at die poult of no return While 
it is the business of the conservative to warn us of threats 
to the established order, the American conservative has 
been notoriously inept at identifying real threats and eval- 
uating their intensity He has chosen to be melodramatic 
at just those moments in our history when he should have 
"played it straight" and has injected into his often wise 
counsels a quality of despair that has vitiated much of 
their force The conservative who cnes “Wolfl Wolfl Rt 
the sight of a rat is not a very useful fellow to have around, 
and America has known this conservative much too well 
The American conservative seems often to have forgot- 
ten that social progress is itself a key element of social sta- 
bility He has displayed some talent for "resisting reforms 
that might smash or weaken the foundations of the com- 
munity," but he has had small talent for "engineering re- 
adjustments in the superstructure that can no longer be 
put ofl without damage to the foundations” This defi- 
ciency showed itself in his reluctance to offer attractive 
alternatives to the positive programs of the New and Fair 
Deals and to understand the cogency of the social de- 
mands that had called these programs into being Ameri- 
can conservatism, as Irving Knstol has pointed out, has 
shown an “amateur helplessness before the specific prob- 
lems of a dynamic industrial society ” It has left the field 
of reform open to progressmsm, then has chosen, hke 
Fafmr, to meet most reforming thrusts by mumbling irri- 

I Ites in possession. 

Let me sleep 

While the American conservative has worked overtime 
in Ins speeches “to foster the spirit of unity among men of 
all classes and callings,” he has been talking about unity on 
his own terms This is, of course, a failing common to 
conservatives— indeed, to all men who answer “unity 
when asked for a solution to our social problems The for- 
mula for unity is always devised m their favor, and they 
are obstinate in the face of suggestions to alter it The 
fury with which the Right fought the advance of organ- 


ized labor and the arrogance with which it has bulbed its 
intellectual critics are two sorry instances of its Jailure to 
weave a more meaningful unity out of the iversity 

American life . , , 

No less distressmg, and destructive of the sense of c - 
munity, has been the easy unconcern with which tne 
Right has ignored evidence of widespread P ove ^£’ . 
ferine, and dislocation, especially in hard times g 

most members of the American Liberty f^ a S“ e 
doubtless charitable toward the unfortunates w 0 
close them, their literature, as Frederick Rudolph 
has shown, was totally "devoid of any concern or 
cial and economic dislocations of the 1930 s \ r 

in mind of Orestes Brownson’s comment t ia a 
Wellington is much more likely to vindicate the rights <* 
labor tfian an Abbott Lawrence" Surely there has been 
missing from Americas ruggedly individualistic ^consen^ 
hsm a strain of compassion for those who a\e 
suffered The conservative has not always M 
as it is He has ignored much of the P am , an , P . ^ siste d 
no society has ever sufficiently eliminated, 

-P™ JL nng d »b y the kg - J* - JJ 

formance he imposes on himself Thi 
conducive to social harmony , 

Another instance of practical failure. on ““ 

already dwelt, i, the sad record ol American m - 
» "identifying and protecting Urf" - doubt of 

munity" We are too materialistic a p p of our 

that-and the flight is tw.ce-gmlty of ‘ , ^ 

cultural sms It failed to throw p wa y e 0 f in dus- 

surge of materialism *>“' “ "^tllcs, search for profits, 
tnalism, ,t took the lead ” ' om smtm ,ents, and 

in cheapening our las es, vu g 8 - Most 

dullrng our abihty to "distiuguish valu^trtm pa 

pernicious of all is the m ^ made economic 

economic means and ethical ^ ra , h „ „ n0 of sev- 
mdividuabsm a way of life , freedom It is one 

cal factor, m the Amencan J at ^ 
thing for the Right to urge ^ they are 

sary to democracy, quite another to insist tna y 


one and the same thing Under this heading we might call 
attention again to the failure of our conservatives to warn 
us moderately and persistently of our sins, weaknesses, 
and imperfections They have either flattered us too much 
or rated us too low Rarely have they judged us with the 
proper conservative mixture of candor and compassion 
The political performance of American conservatism, 
for the most part the performance of the Republican 
party, is full of soft spots Certainly the Right must assume 
a large share of the blame for the corruption that streaks 
our political process Certainly it stands accused of warp- 
ing the Constitution of the fathers in U S v E C, Knight 
Co (1895), Pollock v Farmers Loan and Trust Co 
( 1 895)» Adkins v Childrens Hospital (1923). anc * H am ~ 
mer v Dagenhart (1918) Not only has it failed to create 
a tradition of public service for itself, it has done far too 
much, by word and deed, to discredit this idea wherever 
it has struggled to be bom Senator Taft himself, not two 
years before his death, warned the graduating class of an 
Ohio college “to avoid government work as a career" The 
extra measure of moral indignation that Ceorge Kennan 
finds in our foreign policy, the worst excesses of tariff 
legislation, the moral blindness of those who insist on the 
identity of democratic socialism and Soviet Communism, 
the lamentable abuses of the legislative investigating 
power, the tensions and ruptures in the Republican Party, 
above all the eagerness with which many persons who 
should have known better encouraged the depredations 
of Senator McCarthy on almost every institution from Har- 
vard to the White House by way of the United States 
Arm) these are major counts in the indictment of politi- 
cal conservatism for lack of maturity, of high-mindedness, 
and of the sense of mission 

If to this bill of indictment we add the charge that was 
made in Chapter VII— that the failure of the American 
Right m theory was also a failure in fact — we are bound 
to conclude that conservatism will cany a heavy burden 
of faults and defaults into the indefinite future The fact 
that liberalism has its own record of malfeasance and non- 
feasance is, in this instance, beside the point The feckless- 


ness of American liberalism and irresponsibility of Ameri- 
can conservatism do not, alas, cancel one another out The 
Right cannot wipe the slate clean of its own sins with a 
prudish recital of the sms of the Left 
Nor can it exorcise the sharp political, social, and ideo- 
logical divisions in the ranks of conservatism with a sar- 
castic catalogue of the notorious divisions in the ranks of 
progressivism In a country as large and richly varied as 
the United States, a social movement of any size must of 
necessity be a loose confederacy of other-minded inter- 
ests rather than a tight union of hke-minded individuals, 
and it is hardly necessary to point out that conservatism, 
like progressivism, must bear the burden of variety and 
dissent so long as it aspires to influence and authority in 
the land It is, however, quite necessary to point out that 
most spokesmen of the American Right, in their under- 
standable delight over the rediscovery of conservatism, 
have not yet faced up to the things that divide conserva- 
tives even as other things unite them Although all gen- 
uine American conservatives are united in opposing the 
bright plans of men like Walter Reuther and Chester 
Bowles for a new New Deal, they are divided from one 
another, deeply if not hopelessly, by dozens of cross-cut- 
ting incongruities in status, purpose, and principle In the 
bustling camp of modem American conservatism there are 
not merely "pseudos * and "ultras * and “middle-of-the- 
roaders" and ev en "liberals," as well as Catholics and Prot- 
estants, farmers and businessmen, and Republicans and 
Democrats, there are primitives and sophisticates, extrem- 
ists and moderates, clericalists and secularists, sentimental 
agrarians and hard-headed industrialists, small business- 
men and big businessmen, small-town boys and big-city 
slickers, Spartans and Sybarites, protectionists and free 
traders, poujadistes and expense-accounters, xenophobes 
and xenophiles, McCarthyites and anti-McCarthyites (and 
anti-anti-McCarthyites) , fighters of World War IH and 
ever-hopeful Summiteers, cautious automobile dealers in 
Keokuk and restless automobile producers m Detroit, 
men who hite both change and reform and men who hate 
only the latter, men on the way up and men on the way 



down, men who enjoy National Reiiew and men who ora 
enraged by it (and men who cannot even understand it), 
men angrily unadjusted to recent events and men effort* 
lessly overadjusted, men of wealth and men of modest 
means and men of no means at all, and even, m the famous 
words of an undoubted American conservative, men who 
are “kennel dogs" and men who aro “bird dogs " A pro- 
gram to which even a majority of conservative Americans 
can subscribe with a will, a philosophy from which even a 
majority can draw inspiration — these arc goals that the 
wonderful variety of American life may have put forever 
beyond the reach of the men on the Right They are 
bound by every consideration of honor, self-interest 
and history to drive steadily toward these twin goals, yet 
there is no certainty, perhaps not even a probability, that 
they can ever reach them 

One division in the ranis of conservatism deserves spe- 
cial mention, because it could easily become so angry a* 
to wreck all hopes for a united and purposeful Right, if not 
indeed for a united and purposeful America It has been 
laid open to our sorrow and apprehension by the long- 
gathering surge of the Negro minority, aided by powerful 
a lies in the white majority, toward Justice and equal op- 
portunity all over America but especially in the South 
This division in the conservative camp is not exactly be- 
tween the South and the rest of the nation, but between 
Uie ultra-conservatism of the Southern die-hards and their 
many well-wishers all over ■America and the moderate 
conservatism, whether opportunistic or pragmatic or con- 
science-stricken, of thoso who recognize that the Civil 
ar was fought a full century ago The position of the 
onner seems to be one of embittered obduracy, of the 
tabk ° De reasonab, y gracious surrender to the mevi- 

T ^ le J ^ outb 1S a humbling challenge to Americans of the 
^ enler * ,s > both politically and morally, a teas- 
ng dilemma for Americans of the Right As to politics, we 
ee on y think of the thrust of this great issue of desegre- 
ga ion into the aspirations and calculations of the Repub- 
ean arty The urge to link up formally with the 


conservatism of the South is a powerful one, and many 
‘■publicans look forward hopefully to the day when their 
natural allies m the states of the old Confederacy march 
out OTever from the crumbling fortress of the Democ- 
racy Yet the urge to be a winner — not to mention the 
urge to honor Lincoln — is even stronger, and some of 
these same Republicans must wonder if a party that made 
roomfor Senators Byrd and Eastland might not find .tself 
gutted by wholesale desertion and doomed to anmhila- 
on at the polls m the Northern states While the Demo- 
cratic party is having its own troubles wrestling with the 
problem of the South, there is little doubt that, as the 
party of reform, it must come in time to a much harder 
, e m Congress in behalf of desegregation — and no 
oubt at all that the reaction of the Southern Democrats 
Tlf 6 Se%ere anc * even parricidal 
There is doubt, at the moment impenetrable doubt, 
ow the middle-of-the-road Republicans will react to this 
reaction, and surely it is the moral dilemma that will prose 
hardest for them to resolve Expediency — the cold- 
looded counting of votes and seats that could be won and 
tost by any particular course of action — will not occupy 
the field of decision unchallenged Principle — the con- 
science-stricken recognition that the Negro should not 
ha\e to beg, and fight for the ordinary rights of an Ameri- 
can will surely make its claims upon the minds of many 
conservatives And what then will be the right course for 
American conservatism? How, indeed, will it be possible 
for men to be conservative, in the usual sense of the word, 

* such a situation? How can they preserve what is obvi- 
ously not worth preserving? How can they defend a tradi- 
tion that is both decayed and comipt? The fact is that 
most of the familiar rules of conservative behavior be- 
come inoperative in a situation so muddled and long-fes* 
tenng as that now facing the American South and thus all 
Americans The signals are off, and every conservative 
must follow the simple dictates of hts conscience rather 
than the muted commands of a tradition that, like any tra- 
dition, can go just so far and no farther in giving a lead to 
its adherents And conscience, as we know, can lead men 



down, men who enjoy National Review and men who are 
enraged by it (and men who cannot even understand it), 
men angrily unadjusted to recent events and men effort' 
lessly overadjusted, men of wealth and men of modest 
means and men of no means at all, and even, in the famous 
words of an undoubted American conservative, men who 
are "kennel dogs“ and men who are "bud dogs " A pro- 
gram to which even a majority of conservative Americans 
can subscribe with a will, a philosophy from which even a 
majority can draw inspiration — these are goals that the 
wonderful variety of American life may have put forever 
bejond the reach of the men on the Right. They are 
bound by every consideration of honor, self-interest, 
and history to drive steadily toward these twin goals, jet 
there is no certainty, perhaps not even a probability, that 
they can ever reach them 

One division in the ranks of conservatism deserves spe- 
cial mention, because it could easily become so angry as 
to wreck all hopes for a united and purposeful Right, if not 
indeed for a united and purposeful America It has been 
laid open to our sorrow and apprehension by the long- 
gathering surge of the Negro minority, aided by powerful 
allies in the white majority, toward justice and equal op- 
portunity all over America but especially in the South 
This division in the conservative camp is not exactly be- 
tween the South and the rest of the nation, but between 
the ultra-conservatism of the Southern die-hards and their 
many well-wishers all over America and the moderate 
conservatism, whether opportunistic or pragmatic or con- 
science-stricken, of those who recognize that the Civil 
ar was fought a full century ago The position of the 
onner seems to be one of embittered obduracy, of the 
table ° nC reaSQnabl >’ S racious surrender to the mevr- 

T ® outb 1S a humbling challenge to Americans of the 
Center, it is, both politically and morally, a teas- 
g 1 emma for Americans of the Right As to politics, we 
ee on y think of the thrust of this great issue of desegre- 
g ion into the aspirations and calculations of the Repub- 
can arty The urge to link up formally with the 


tively Conservatism is heading into a period of acute dis- 
comfort m which it will have to choose openly between 
standpatism (that is, sulking in its tent), reaction (that is, 
sinking the tent and marching angnly into the past), and 
achvism (that is, stealing the clothes of the progressives) 
This cannot be a happy prospect for men of genuinely 
conservative temper and purpose Neither resignation nor 
militancy nor experimentation is a natural posture or 

I do not mean to say that all these buidcns will be im- 
possible for American conservatism to carry I have *| m P V 
thought it important to point out that, while many jig y 
visible developments in American society augur we or 
the further growth of conservative sentiments among e 
people, many other developments, some of them on y 
vague in outline at the moment, are at the same ime 
working to render many of these sentiments obsolete or 
do I mean to say that conservatism has no future, a 
the revival ot the past several years is a last glomus burst 
to be followed by eternal night I have simply thoug 1 
important to point out that this future may be S rin V aI '' 
frustrating, and that fewer thanks than ever before wi 
offered by history to the thankless persuasion 

This has been an intentionally gloomy recital, and con- 
servatrve, have every nght to ignore these warnings ana 
buckle down with high spurts to the tasks ot the present. 
Just what these are and how they should be tac e ax 
matters for conservatives to decide without detai e a vi 
from outsiders As the goals for American progressiv 
cannot be set by conservatives, so the goals for 
conservatism cannot be set by progressives ne 
little nght, unless he is a convinced conservative ’ 

to go about preaching to conservatives how ey oug 
behave , 

One does have a nght, however, to listen to ® 
servabves as they debate loudly among themse ves 
express a preference for one line of argumen ov 
other One also has a right to judge the behavior and pm 
grams and decisions of Amencan conservatism on 



to every single point on the political and moral compass 

It u not for me to say In this context just where the 
conscience of millions of conservative Americans should 
lead them I am concerned only to point out that the dme 
of the Negro for consideration and opportunity will be an 
ordeal by fuo for American conservatism However much 
one might wish that tho leaden of the Right could join 
together and do the right thing in terms of morality, his- 
tory, justice, and national pnde, one Is bound to look with 
foreboding on the course of tho ordeal Tho burdens of 
American conservatism aro numerous enough without the 
addition of )ct another of apparently crushing propor- 

And yet even this burden may prove light compared 
with those that must now be shouldered by all of us, con- 
servatives and liberals and radicals alike, as we move into 
a fantastic future The creation of ghastly weapons of an- 
nihilation, the harnessing of new sources of energy, tho 
rapid nse in population, tho even moro rapid rue m the 
material expectations of this population, the drive toward 
automation, the reach into space, tho collectivizing of 
communications, the ceaseless war on disease and poverty 
and consequent promise of gerontocracy, the first crude 
beginnings of weather control, abovo all the progressive 
deterioration of what little order the world could once 
show these are only a few of tho ingredients of a situa- 
tion in which memory, habit, and tradition may no longer 
be viable entena for action, and in which the social proo 
ess has accelerated to a paco that makes it almost impos- 
sible for conservatives to practise their ordinary arts It is 
tnie that a certain kind of conservatism feeds — and has 
oftMi enough fed well — on revolutionary situations, but 
evidence mounts that the situation Into which we seem to 
be heading irrevocably will be so qualitatively different 
rom any ever experienced by men on earth that consent- 
a sm of any kind will be choked to death on a glut of deci- 
sions Even if we look no more than twenty years ahead, 
we are swamped m imagination with vast social problems 

at will have to be handled boldly, creatively, ingen- 
iously, even hereheally — and thus anything but conserva- 


taxes It cannot listen to the querulous advice of the sen. 
hmental Luddites, for, in the words of Whittaker Cham, 
bers, a man much admired by tittra-consen atives, *'A 
Conservatism that cannot face the facts of the machine 
and mass production, and its consequences in government 
and politics, is foredoomed to futility and petu/ance " 
While it tnes to bring the excesses of the ultra-conserva- 
tives under control, it must not follow the primrose path 
of undisciplined Tory democracy If its Goldwaters must 
be made to see the impossibility of reversing history and 
its Buckleys made to see the essential radicalism of their 
total war on the New Orthodoxy (limited war is certainly 
authorizcdl), its Rockefellers must leam that Disraeli’s 
ironic formula for successful conservatism — “Tory men 
and Whig measures"— comes out as just another brand of 
ptogressivism The middling position is never easy to oc- 
cupv , not least because there arc no sure theoretical land- 
marks that help men to find it, yet this position, located 
flexibly somewhere between unadjustment and over-ad- 
justment to the imperatives of the new America, is the 
one in which conservatives can best serve the nation and 
themselves Once again we are reminded how important 
and yet thankless is the task of genuine conservatism 
Third, the conservative movement must find its center 
of gravity, if by no means all its spokesmen and leaders, »n 
the business community and its allied professions This 
raises, to be sure, hard questions about the character and 
purpose of American conservatism, for nothing could be 
less “conservative” in the broadest sense of the word 
than the restless versatility of American industry, nothing 
could be less “aristocratic" than the elite that runs it And 
if it is not quite as true in America today as it was in his 
England, still there is a core of persistent validity in Sam- 
uel Johnson's observation- 

A merchant s desire is not of glory, but of gain, not 
of public wealth, but of private emolument, he is. 
therefore, rarely to be consulted on questions of war 
or peace, or any designs of wide extent or distant 



terms, above all to hold conservatism to the broad stand- 
ards it insists on setting for other men. If, for example, 
conservatives find “extremism” to bo one of the besetting 
sins of progressivism that all honest progressives should 
eschew, then they cannot cavil at criticism from the out- 
side when they themselves go off the deep end. 

It is in this cautious and, I trust, scrupulous spirit that 
this book turns aside briefly from its charted course to ex- 
tend a few pieces of practical advice to the men on the 
Right Thu is not a program for “taming" the conservative 
urge, for making it more “gracious” and “responsible" and 
thus, m effect, “liberal,” but for directing this persistent 
and socially necessary urge into channels of behav lor and 
decision where it can flow with maximum benefit for the 
whole nation Let nothing in this small sermon be con- 
strued to mean that conservatism should be anything other 
than conservative in spirit and influence 

Thu u certainly the tenor of the first piece of advice, 
which is that American conservatism should be even more 
self-consciously conservative than it has been in the past 
several years Men who are conservatives should think of 
themselves as conservatives, call themselves conserva- 
tives, and act like conservatives — even if this means losing 
friends and alienating people They must be conservatives 
o the intellect as well as of temper and possession, con- 
servatives out of principle as well as out of habit or sloth 
0I , 631 T he y -ust understand what conservatism is and 
W y it should exist, they must bo aware of the conserva- 
ive mission and be ready to pursuo it In short, they must 
go to school with both their spokesmen and critics, and 
, ’ however painfully, to be real conservatives 
. ,f COnd ' „ conservative movement must come in tune 
row off or at least bring under control several of the 
eccentric or irrelevant brands that now profess to speak 
>n i name It cannot admit the pseudo -conservatives to its 
councils, for il„ s „ el - with men who me 

jns as much spoilers of democracy as are dedicated Com- 
for^h * 11 cant »ot give over leadership to the pouiadistes, 
anew S ** l ° esca P e m to a never-never land where the 
er o every social problem is very simply “Cut 


m self-government and toward centralized, uncontrollable 
bureaucracy " No one has paid less heed to Bobngbroke’s 
wise counsel, delivered before the American Revolution 
“It »s certain that the obligations under which we he to 
serve our country increase in proportion to the ranks we 
hold, and the other circumstances of birth, fortune, and 
situation that call usi to this service " The conservative 
businessman must therefore take special pains to recog- 
nize the new dimensions of government, and perhaps 
even to act on David Lilicnthals warning “that a moral 
obligation to enter the public service during a part of 
every qualified man's best years has become, for die gen- 
eration that lies abend, an actual necessity ” 

Service in government can take many forms, ranging 
from one term on a school board or membership on a Presi- 
dent's commission to several terms as a district attorney or 
a lifetime in the Department of Commerce Whatever 
kind and length of service he chooses, the conservative 
businessman must adopt a new attitude toward govern- 
ment This attitude calls for concern about the wages and 
conditions of public office, familiarity if not always agree- 
ment With proposals for strengthening the civil service, 
and understanding of the great truth that successful state- 
craft is not “just a question of applying business methods 
to government” It calls, first of all, for abandonment of 
the campaign of fierce anti-statism that has served the 
nation ill and the conservative not half so well as he 

Conservatives have performed far more faithfully and 
skillfully m a related area of public service sponsorship 
and leadership of voluntary associations association 

for charitable, cultural, economic, or social purposes is 
America’s characteristic institution It ensures progress be- 
cause it pools the hopes and talents of free individuals 
and breeds natural leaders, it bungs stability because 
it balances the American ideal of self-reliance against the 
universal urge for communal association, ,t defends 
liberty because it serves as buffer between man and gov- 
ernment, doing things for him that he cannot do for him- 
self and must not let government do for him Conservative 



Yet if the “merchants" — by which I mean the manag- 
ers, financiers, advisors, and auxiliaries of American busi- 
ness and industry — are not to be consulted on the great 
issues of our tune, who then will express the conservative 
point of view? And if they are not supported by political 
allies at the centers of public authority, what outlets will 
theji find for the vast power that is undoubtedly theirs? 
It will always be an imperfection in American conserva- 
tism (if a blessing to America) that it has a business com- 
munity rather than a landed interest or priesthood or mil- 
itary class as its natural social base, yet an imperfect con- 
servatism that reflects the realities of the distribution of 
power in a society is greatly to be preferred to some purer 
brand that reflects only the eccentricities of a cave-full of 
Adullamites Whatever may be the hopes of men ld-e 
Donald Davidson and Richard Weaver, the fact 1$ that 
American conservatism must, first of all, enlist and serve 
the interests of American business or abdicate responsi- 
bility for the future of the Republic The businessman 
may be exhorted and implored and perhaps even edu- 
cated, but he cannot be ignored or despised — not so 
long as he remains, in Howard Bowen’s words, “the cen- 
tral figure in American society — the symbol of our cul- 

At the same time, the conservative businessman can no 
longer afford to ignore or despise his natural allies in poli- 
tics and government He, too, must recognize the realities 
of Amenean society, and no reality seems harder for him 
to recognize than the permanence of the shift in the pat- 
tern of power in this country from the private area to 
* j P“khc, from the economic arena to the political, from 
individual man to organized groups and beyond to the 
state He can no longer afford to act as if the state did not 
or should not exist The state is here to stay, and his very 

rst uty is therefore to help American conservatism to 
create and honor a tradition of pubhc service at all levels 
th m f ncan government No one has contributed more 

an the conservative businessman, a doctrinaire anti- 
t a w ^ a t Drucher describes as the trend "away 

rom the active, responsible participation of the citizen 



caD, with seme reservations, a spirit of noblesse oblige in 
Amencaa busmesx. Yet we may look forward hopefully 
to a steady growth m the Dumber of businessmen who arc 
geaimeh concerned about the welfare of their workers, 
dot to the social implications of their decisions, sobered 
by the thought that they wield public rather than private 
power, and annous to prove that American capitalism is 
savant rather than master of American democracy 
American conservatism, I repeat, will not flourish un- 
less it appeals to the leaders of business The claims of 
these leaders to respect and power will not be honored 
tnless they serve the public in the spirit of a conservatism 
on£ntc d to the new facts of life in America Only through 

great tradition of public service in government, com- 
and vocation will America's valuable plutocracy 
become at last an invaluable aristocracy — an aristocracy, 
me must hasten to add. of an American cut and therefore 
ca “ed by some other name 

One might offer all sorts of other detailed advice to 
^reoicaa conservatism — for example, about how to maui- 
kto the sound dollar or when to use its great influence in 
*be field of education or why the present two-party system 
on S“t to be maintained as long as possible — but that 
would tale me far beyond the necessary limits I have 
toiposcd on this bool. I have gone beyond them on this 
oie point cf a new attitude toward the roles of both gov 
^tonent and business because it seems to me to be e 
beginning of conservative wisdom in modem America. 
^ because, m any case, it calls for as much readjustment 
m conservative theory’ as in conservative practice 
One final word and w e shall return to the w orld o 1 * 

“4 dut is nmplv to remind Atocnem consei.aBsm o! ns 
b'gh duty to mamtam its histone Inks with - 
bbcralum The glory of our politics has been the 
bruty into which most of the dissensions and 
ments of a diverse people have been £n a v *- 

Comma!., 1 u£aLm. 

have corn. icely for ascendancy m tae '' , ^ 

arena, yet me amed on the 

have their _-ts i European countms. 


Americans will continue to associate in conservative 
groups for conservative purposes, but we may hope that 
they will understand more clearly the social significance 
of their activities, and that their conservatism will show 
respect for groups formed for liberal or even radical pur- 
poses As he does his part in a half-dozen associations, 
ranging from the chamber of commerce to the community 
chest, the American conservative must keep the public 
interest uppermost in mind He must never forget that 
the terms of his mission require him to be the special 
guardian of social unity 

The man-hours devoted to government and community 
by most conservatives will still be only a tiny fraction of 
those they devote to “making a living ” Since the typical 
American conservative, new or old, makes his living as 
businessman, we are brought up against the interesting 
question to what extent is business a public service? This 
question, in turn, leads to others what kinds of power do 
business leaders wield? Do corporations have social re- 
sponsibilities bejond those fixed by law and contract? 
What, specifically, are their responsibilities to stock- 
holders, workers, consumers, associates, competitors, 
chanties, education, local community, nation? How much 
should they be concerned about canons of public taste, 
the level of public morality, the state of civil liberty? What 
may society properly ask of the leaders of business in 
knowledge, character, conduct, and accountability? Is 
business becoming a profession? And if it is, what are its 
standards, principles, fair and unfair practices, traditions, 
self-regulating devices, specialized knowledge, and social 

These questions are not going to be answered by one 
man or one book The most I can do here is raise them for 
consideration and, at the same time, take note of the re- 
markable progress in the social thought and practice of 
American business over the past twenty or thirty years 
Much of this progress has been achieved under duress, 

ut much, too, because many businessmen have willingly 
assumed new responsibilities commensurate with old 
powers We are stall far from developing what one might 



somehow an unconservative impulse, and the steady pur- 
suit of this intention carries men dangerously far from that 
simple piety and patience, that reluctance to poke a fin- 
ger into the "cake of custom," which are the essence of 
the conservative point of view There are at least a few 
grams of truth in the smug observation of the canting 
liberal that a conservatism in search of clear-cut principles 
is a conservatism already in full retreat 
The intellectual climate of the United States, we have 
also learned, works to magnify the dampening effects of 
these inherent disabilities The benevolent tyranny of 
Liberalism over the American mind has been shaken but 
hardly dissolved by the events of the past quarter-cen- 
tury.-and conservatives must go on making the best peace 
they can with an essentially restless and revolutionary 
consensus of ideas The continuous intrusion of all man- 
ner of new institutions and arnngements and even "tradi- 
tions" mto the generally accepted pattern of American 
existence puts a severe strain on the conservative phi- 
losopher in search of the society he wants to ra- 
tionalize and defend. In the abstract the conservative is a 
nun who announces that this, the here and now, is the 
best of all possible worlds, in the concrete he is a man for 
whom this simple formula means one surrender after 
another to the whimsicalities of change and aggressions of 
reform Unwilling to surrender, )et buffeted by the dizzy 
pace of events, he is forced to be more and more selective 
about those events of the past and institutions of the pres- 
ent he will choose to celebrate, and how much venera- 
tion can a man display, vve are bound to ask, when he 
really puts his mind to work in this analytical manner? 
When a conservative once decides, as many articulate 
conservatives seem to have decided in explosive America, 
that his best of all possible worlds was here yettenby and 
is gone today, he begins the fateful move toward reaction 
and ratiocination that turns him from a' prudent tradi- 
tionalist into an angry ideologue What history shall I 
venerate? What traditions shall I uphold? What institu- 
tions shall I protect against the reformers? — these are 



kind of bloodless civil war. Each has seemed to under- 
stand the reason for the other’s existence, each has re- 
fused to drive its natural antipathy for the other so far 
as to loosen the bonds of the great consensus that knits 
all Americans together. It may therefore be hoped that 
conservatism will pay no heed to those few shnll voices 
in its camp that insist on identifying American progressiv- 
ism with Communist radicalism and on finding the devils 
of modem existence in the social reformers of constitu- 
tional democracy. In the wise words of a genuine Ameri- 
can conservative, Frederick D Wilhelmsen- 

Conservatism — in simple justice if not in chanty 
— must cease blaming latter-day liberalism for all 
the evils of the times, conservatism must respect the 
histone role of liberalism and the social conscience 
of the age 

Liberalism, needless to say, has exactly the same duty 
toward conservatism It must cease blaming the new con- 
servatism for all the continuing inequities of our common 
existence, it must respect the histone role of conservatism 
as the bulwark of social order But this is a sermon to con- 
servatives, not to liberals — although they need saving, too 
— and the burden of it is to warn the men on the Right 
against a politics of fear and anger that divides America 
at the very time when unity in the face of totalitananism 
is so desperately needed For neither the self-styled "lib- 
eral' who thinks Eisenhower is a “heartless reactionary" 
nor the self -styled “conservative" who thinks Kennedy 
is "no better than Khrushchev” can America now afford 
to show much sjmpathy Such men, it would seem, see 
us already divided into Disraeli’s ‘two nations,” and for 
that vision of America the conservative, before all other 
men, must express his peculiar loathing 

The task of developing a viable theory could prove as 
difficult for American conservatism as the task of practis- 
ing a successful politics In this matter, too, conservatives 
must operate under severe disabilities The mere irutew* 
tior to spin out a full-bodied theory of conservatism is 


and 1930’s should have taught us what to expec 
who exchange thinking for sloganeering an 
opportunism American conservatism must ta e e 
Whitney Griswold’s warning that it is no more po 
to conduct affairs of state without reference to pohticat 
philosophy than it is to do business without money 
conservative revival will do more harm than goo u 
it can arouse and be aroused by an earnest a ven 

^°We shouhbneither expect nor desire this adventure to 
appeal to more than a fraction of American cons ^' 

Political thinking is not done by multitudes t is. * 

often done ior multitudes. and d the great body of con 
servaftves ,s to be led .n t.nro to assumptmns, punerp «. 
myths, and slogans that are more expressive 
and less subnets, ve of ranonal publ.e debate, 
theory must point out the way . „ y 

The question then arises which way is 
one of the several competing school or ^ at . 

American conservative thought prov 1 P f 

tractive line of general principle »'“S, "'‘‘f’ . 'ttor in- 
the Right may work toward specific solub b(j 

tellectual problems? This, too, is a ques ^mselvcs, 
ult.matcly F answered by con f erV ^, J-and begs the 
Jet it is also one that claims the a ^ Let me 

advice— of all students ol the Amen “ . m tam 

give my own morel, suggestive rrnswer by loobrng 
at each of die smetal poss.bte uhoj«^ „ v en 

The first is pure Am “ ,C f““ “Lranlsofthn>l.- 
iv hen it can find no earnest a v j conscience of 

mg conservatism, s„ll presses „ E.senhone, or 
tho Right In the campmfg*^ majr sUll hcar (in a 
the pulpit rhetoric ot a vQice of Jefferson speak- 

garbled version, to be su ) reasoning democracy 

ing of perfectibility, PJ®fi r * add> b ut one may not— 
One may hear it, I am tempt longer with much 

if one is conservative— rouse t {e J doubts of the 

enthusiasm The man w liberalism repeats 

SusTisSS ° [ — 1 



hard questions for conservatives, and the answers may 
be as numerous as the men who make them 

Perhaps the hardest question each conservative thinker 
has to answer is whether his meditations should be di- 
rected toward the limited goal of creating a consciously 
conservative theory or the broader possibility of restat- 
ing and thus even of capturing the American political 
tradition Many conservatives are so dedicated to con- 
servatism or so skeptical about their chances of breaking 
the stranglehold of Liberalism that they seem content to 
work out a set of principles that, as it were, write off the 
Left and give exclusive service to the Right Many others, 
however, seem to think it both strategically and intrinsi- 
cally the wiser course to aim at a fresh, sober, no-nonsense 
version of the old tradition designed to bring inspiration 
and comfort to all save those on the 'lunatic fringe” at 
1 ither end of the political spectrum To an outsider who 
Wishes conservatism reasonably well the former course 
seems more honest and likely to pay dividends in the mar- 
ket place of ideas, the latter more prudent and likely to 
win points in the arena of power The choice, m any case, 
is for each conservative thinker to make for himself, and 
we should not be surprised if many make it by dying to 
have the best of both worlds 

The choice whether to think at all, that is, whether to 
wrestle purposefully with age-old problems of political 
and social theory, has already been made for these men 
The mission of modi m conservatism is too urgent, the 
gamble on democracy too imperative, the pace of Ameri- 
can life too swift for men to put all their trust in intui- 
tion, habit, and opportunism Surely it is the solemn duty 
of conservative men of learning to hammer out a political 
theory for the use of conservat-ve men of affairs and for 
the inspiration of conservative men of routine Whatever 
arguments have been advanced to rationalize the past 
failuies of American conservative thought they are no 
longer valid, if indeed they ever were The conservative 
successes of the 1790s should have taught us what to 
expect of men whose program is grounded in a tough, 
coherent theory The conservative failures of the 1890s 


and Hoover The slow tempering of the individualism, 
a solubsm, optimism, and materialism of the old tradition 
° 1 p ame S 16 an d Field has produced a distinctly more 
liable kmd of philosophy for the Right The new empha- 
sis on tradition, prudence, realism, and conscious con- 
servatism has given it a toughness it sorely lacked Yet it is 
now such a hodge-podge of conflicting isms, including an 
overdose of opportunism, that it will have to be rebuilt 
from the ground up if it is to be of any use to men who can 
trunk for themselves 

The Conservative tradition is, in its own wav, as super- 
ficially appealing a solution to the problems of the Amen- 
uan Right as Is the Liberal tradition, and it does not lack 
for advocates who are explicitly or implicitly Burkean to 
the core What American conservatism must do, say these 
diagnosticians of our spiritual and intellectual ills, is to 
embrace Conservatism in all its splendor, to desist from 
whoring after the false gods of Jefferson, Bentham, and 
Mill and turn back to worship in the temple of Burke, 
Colendge, and, if Americans insist, John Adams The 
American conservative must become a Conservative 

This, ft seems to me, is especially bad and useless ad- 
vice — bad because it ask* the conservative to commit 
political suicide, useless because what it asks is m reality 
♦^conceivable America is different, both m histoi y and 
present state, and the full Conservative tradition simply 
Will not flourish on this sod We shall continue to harbor 
Conservatives, and they will continue to serve us well as 
critics of taste, manners, and culture We shall continue to 
honor many articles of the Conservative tradition in 
theory and many more in practice, giving to each the 
necessary Americanizing twist Our conservatives, let us 
pray, will see the necessity of being a little less Liberal 
in speech and a little less radical m action In time we 
may come to a clearer understanding of British and Euro- 
pean Conservatism and a more profitable exchange of 
ideas with its chief spokesmen Certainly the political 
theorists of the American Right should study Conserva- 
tism with care. They should decide which principles to 
accept, which ones to amend, which ones to reject. It 

26 o 


servahves and thus finds it impossible to oppose radical 
reform either shrewdly or bravely The consen'abve 
pndes himself on his realism, but no realist can cling to the 
quiet optimism of Jefferson m the face of the twentieth 
century The evidence is overwhelming, certainly if in- 
terpreted at all conservatively, that men are not perfect- 
ible, that progress is not inevitable, and that democracy, 
however cherished, is not exactly a government of ‘rea- 
son and truth ” “Innocent Liberalism” does not even look 
well on the liberals these days, as men like Reinhold Nie- 
buhr and Arthur Schlesmger, jr, never tire of reminding 
their friends, and conservatives certainly no longer have 
any excuse for posing patriotically m the old colors This 
is surely not the path to new wisdom for American con- 

Neither is that special brand of Liberalism — or was it 
really a decayed form of Conservatism? — we have called 
“laissez-faire conservatism" Whatever they may have 
been in the nineteenth century, the doctrines of Field 
and Sumner are nothing better than an upside-down Marx- 
ism in the twentieth The crisis of American life is moral, 
cultural, and political rather than economic in character, 
and no solution to it is likely to be found in so thoroughly 
materialistic a Mew of life A philosophy that compre- 
hends man as essentially an economic unit tells us noth- 
ing about how to deal with either his lower passions or 
higher aspirations, a philosophy that views society as a 
bearpit of struggling individuals is an open door to the 
engulfing state And a philosophy that assumes govern- 
ment to be inherently corrupt and corrupting paralyzes 
those who must act in the real world of old-age benefits, 
unemployment insurance, fair-employment practices, and 
credit controls— or else drives them to schizophrenia 
It is the advocates of unreconstructed laissez-faire con- 
servatism, more than incidentally, who have fallen with 
the loudest crash into Khrushchev’s clever trap, which 
frames the contest between him and us as one very simply 
between socialism and capitalism. 

A g rest deal mere can be sard for the up-to-date version 
of laissez-faire conservatism expounded by men like Taft 


and Hoover The slow tempering of the individualism, 
absolutism, optimism, and materialism of the old tradition 
of Carnegie and Field has produced a distinctly more 
viable kind of philosophy for the Right The new empha- 
sis on tradition, prudence, realism, and conscious con- 
servatism has giv en it a toughness it sorely lacked Yet it is 
now such a hodge-podge of conflicting isms, including an 
overdose of opportunism, that it will have to be rebuilt 
from the ground up if it is to be of any use to men who can 
think for themselves 

The Conservative tradition is, in its own way, as super- 
ficially appealing a solution to the problems of the Ameri- 
can Right as is the Liberal tradition, and it does not lack 
for advocates who are explicitly or implicitly Burkean to 
the core What American conservatism must do, say these 
diagnosticians of our spiritual and intellectual ills, is to 
embrace Conservatism in all its splendor, to desist from 
whoring after the false gods of Jefferson, Bentham, and 
Mill and turn back to worship in the temple of Burke, 
Colendge, and, if Americans insist, John Adams The 
Amencan conservative must become a Conservative 

This, it seems to me, is especially bad and useless ad- 
vice — bad because it asks the conservative to commit 
political suicide, useless because what it asks is in realuy 
m conceivable America u differ t nt, both in history and 
present state, and the full Conservative tradition simply 
Will not flourish on this soil We shall continue to harbor 
Conservatives, and they will continue to serve us well as 
entics of taste, manners, and culture We shall continue to 
honor many articles of Hie Conservative tradition in 
theory and many more in practice, giving to each the 
necessary Americanizing twist Our conservatives, let us 
pray, wall see the necessity of being a little less Liberal 
m speech and a little less radical in action In time we 
may come to a clearer understanding of British and Euro- 
pean Conservatism and a more profitable exchange of 
ideas with its chief spokesmen. Certainly the political 
theorists of the Amencan Right should study Conserva- 
tism with care They should decide which principles to 
accept, which ones to amend, which ones to reject. It 



would, however, be the greatest of follies and crudest of 
delusions to shape the philosophy of American conserva- 
tism in the full image of Conservatism The Conservative 
tradition speaks much too bluntly and almost joyfully of 
the wickedness of man, the futility of social effort, the 
fallibility of reason, the excellence of aristocracy, the 
primacy of the community, and the capnee of democ- 
racy — not to mention the wrongness of science and in- 
dustrial progress To accept this tradition unreservedly is 
to reject the Liberal tradition flatly, and thus to move out- 
side the mainstream of American life The task of the 
Right is to produce a political theory that is both con- 
servative and American This task will take some doing 
It calls for creation and integration, not imitation, it may 
call for a revival of Adams, Hamilton, Calhoun, Madison, 
and the conservative Lincoln, but surely not for a whole- 
sale importation of Burke or de Maistre 

What disqualifies our Conservatives finally as suitable 
adv isors in the realm of political ideas is the depth of their 
contempt, sometimes outspoken and always dl-conccaled, 
for Liberalism If this is not true of men like Viereck, 
McGovern, English, and Hallowell, it is most certainly 
true of men like Kirk, Harngan, Niemeycr, and Weaver- 
winch may be one way of saying that the latter are the 
only ical Conservatives now writing in America The 
trouble is that they arc too "real,” that they hav e become 
so passionately attached to the resurgent tradition of Con- 
servatism that they find themselves in a state of all-out 
war with Liberalism — and thus, in fact, with the Ameri- 
can tradition Against such behavior we can cite no law, 
but we can certainly brand it reckless, imprudent, and 
indeed “unconservativc” America, I repeat, has been a 
progressive country with a Liberal tradition One may 
seek to slow down progress, but not despise it, one may 
question the bright promises of Liberalism, but not de- 
fame them The academic Conservative who debates with 
Liberals as if they were utopian socialists, like the pohti- 
cil conservative who contends with progressives as if 
they were totalitarian radicals, takes himself outside the 
rules of the game as it has been played in America Tho 


Conservative who lowers an iron curtain between 

tone and Liberalism re, eats the American tradihon flouB 

American history, and puts on the distressing-dare 1 say 

"„„-Amencan"?-look of an ideologue 

like Niemeyer who judges Liberalism laclusi y 

of what he calls its “logical conclusions ™‘ tes 

,0 judge Conservatism ,n the same mfnagfy 

reahstic terms, the Conservative He Jerk who 

the Liberal as a mm who “hungers after a state hU a 

tapioca-puddmg" mv.tes descnphon as one whose per 

feet state is a haggis _ . nhilosonhv 

Where then can the conservauve tun for * 
of American consenahsm, a philosop f 
order, and preservation ho, 

-personal as I well as^ocm f ^ a phllosoph y 

progressive society? me an iwe n any 

Ly already be in the m*h»g ^ ’ booV ^ 

for the great body ot America , and tf^t our 

are ready for it, but that itj bemg ^ ^ J 0 „ge, b „ 

conservatives are being ed self-conscious con- 

doubted Out of the gropmgs anU-Liberal stric- 

servausm of Taft and Embower. Jh« “ rf He 

tores of Viereck and HaUoweU, tf« r new ew ^ ^ 
Amencan tradition by b ] synthesis by Au- 

th= attempt at a 'and die second 

gust Heckscher and Ku ”'“ J, „d Crmo Bmton 
thoughts on democracy uLwhts on Liberalism of 

-Jen out of the second 0 f Kuk 

Niebuhr and St ^ en *?° toue i 1 viable consensus of Amen- 
and Buckley-a broad, tough. ^ (o be slow]y emerging 
can conservative P™“P^ 0[e „ Btnb uting to it are 

and taking form The men ^ from rcactJ0 n to 

spread along the jectnn » P. rf philosophy ton 

hberalism, and along ^Atany of diem aie not going 

scholasticism *° He^s to which it will bo 

to like the finished P"“ ’ 0B „[ „, e llcctual con- 
put Some are P“f“'| BBVlc uon, others are speculating 
servatism with intense cm 



in general terms and letting the political chips fall where 
they may, still others would be surprised and evert cha- 
grined to be told that they were doing their bit in the 
upbuilding of an authentic American conservatism Yet in 
joining, according to their several natures and purposes, 
m the reaction against Liberalism, all are helping toward 
this end, and certainly these thinkers are no more numer- 
ous, their points of view no more chequered and even 
clashing, than the jumble of men and ideas that have gone 
into the upbuilding of American Liberalism 

It is, in any case, what unites rather than what divides 
these men that makes them of particular interest to us 
a broad identity of intellectual purpose and rather precise 
identity of sources of instruction and inspiration Their 
purpose, as I interpret it, is to work toward a political 
faith, as old as it is new, that doubts but does not deny 
the American tradition of liberty, equably, democracy, 
and progress, and that gives Americans a better under- 
standing of the kind of world in which they must hence- 
forth live Their favorite sources are the conservatives 
and moderates among the founding fathers Washington, 
Madison, John Adams, and — with reservations — Hamil- 
ton What seems to be taking place among intellectuals 
of the Right and Center, and even among a few mavericks 
of the Left, is a discriminating revival of the social, politi- 
cal, and constitutional theory that justified the limited 
upheaval of 1776, the prudent act of creation of 1787. 
and the orderly, calculated gamble of 1789-1797* The 
result is to inform the working principles of American 
conservatism with that sure-handed grasp of the penis 
and promises of popular government which found expres- 
sion in the speeches of Washington, in the letters of 
Adams, and above all in numbers 6, 10, 23, 37, 5 1 and 
6a of The Federalist — and to inspire them with that age- 
old tradition of civility and ordered liberty of which the 
Constitution has been the bnghtest flower 

It is impossible to fault these men on their almost unan- 
imous choice of the prudent Federalists as the symbols 
and sources of a revived and still reviving American 
conservatism In looking hopefully to the past for comfort 


and guidance they behave like conservatives, m looking 
to their own past rather than to that of any other country 
they behave like Americans, and in celebrating men who, 
for the most part, counted Jefferson as a fnend they keep 
a door open to their brothers-m-hberty on the Left More 
than that, they give both dignity and legitimacy to the 
arguments of conservatism — dignity because ethics re- 
places economics as the logic of their pattern of liberty, 
legitimacy because this ethics (what Lippmann calls the 
"public philosophy") is as close an approximation of the 
eternal truths about popular government as men on earth 
have ever worked out While The Federalist offers no 
solutions to specific problems of the modem age, it does 
provide a context of insight, principle, ethical judgment, 
and mood within which men may pursue the conservative 
mission with the greatest possible hope of success 

These remarks arc not intended to mean that American 
conservatism must direct its powerful urge for identity 
with the past to one group of men m one fateful era It 
has as much right as liberalism to use retrospect m the 
search for a “tradition," and thus it may also pay homage 
to such as Marshall, Calhoun, Webster, and Root It has 
as much right, for that matter, to stake a claim to the com- 
mon heroes of our past, and thus to celebrate the conserv- 
ative virtues of Abraham Lincoln, that "melancholy Jef- 
ferson * And surely it may look beyond statesmen to seek 
Out poets, preachers, and — who laiows? — even business- 
men as suitable candidates for its pantheon Yet there is 
Something special — I repeat, dignified and legitimate — 
about the message of the prudent federalists, who must 
henceforth serve American conservatism as a land of 
collective Burke It is fashionable among enbes of Ameri- 
can conservatism to accuse men like Kirk and Viereck of 
"stringing together ill-assorted names m an attempt to 
invent a nonexistent conservative tradition ” The answer 
to this accusation, it seems to me, is for conservatives to 
confess to a vernal sm in which liberals also like to in- 
dulge, to promise never again to put William Graham 
Sumner to bed with Nathaniel Hawthorne, and then to sit 
back and contemplate with pnde the conservative found- 


ers of a liberal nation Whatever follies and irrclcvancics 
may have filled the record of conservatism in the past 
century, it scored a big enough triumph in the first won- 
derful )caxs of the Republic to create a tradition that will 
last as long as America 

It would be presumptuous of me to draw a blueprint of 
the conservative consensus that may emerge in the next 
generation, especially smeo good conservatives, even 
American ones, have a horror of blueprints I am willing 
to predict that this rising faith will assume these general 

It will be more candid about the nature of man than 
American conservatism has been for more than a century, 
for it will base all calculations and prescriptions on the 
assumption that every man is an extraordinaiy mixture 
of good and evil — of sociability and selfishness, of energy 
and sloth, of reason and unreason, of integrity and cor- 
ruptibility. of generosity and spite, of hopo and despair 

It will be less sure of either the jojs or the certainty of 
social progress, and it will Insist that reform be sure- 
footed, discriminating, and respectful of tradition 

It wall be more conscious of the dictates of universal 
justice, and give new life to the concept of a higher law 
as it was understood and proclaimed In the infancy of the 

It will recognize anew man’s need for community, and 
thus will place emphasis on the land of individualism that 
leads free men to co-operate rather than to compete It 
will call fresh attention to the web of groups — families, 
neighborhoods, churches, corporations, unions, co-opera- 
tives, fraternal orders — that we have spun between our- 
selves and the vast pow^r of the state 

It will free itself from cant about the nature of power 
and the role of government It will rise above the easy 
judgment that government is inherently arbitrary and in- 
efficient, acknowledge that government has vital functions 
to perform in an industrial society, and recognize that m 
modem society there is as much danger in a vacuum of 
power as m an overdose of it Still, it will continue to con- 


demn the credulous confidence of modem liberalism in 
the ability of the state to set all things right 

It will say things about liberty that American conserva- 
tives have been much too reluctant to say that undis- 
ciplined liberty can become an obsession destructive of 
personal integrity and social order, that the rights of man 
are earned rather than given, that every right carries with 
it a correlative duty, and that private property lies near 
the center of the structure of human liberty 

It will say things about equality that conservatives 
have been even more reluctant to say that men are equal 
only in the sense that they must be treated as ends and 
not means, that infinite variety exists among men in tal- 
ent, taste, intelligence, and virtue, that the social order 
should be organized in such a way as to take adv antage of 
this variety, that equity rather than equality is the mark of 
such an order, that the uncommon man, too, has a place 
in the American dream 

Most important of all, it will rethink and restate the 
meaning, conditions, and limits of democracy While 
the philosophers of American conservatism wiU remain 
devoted fnends of democracy— -or perish morally and 
politically — they will be the kind of friends who insist on 
giving honest opinions and pointed advice They will pro- 
ceed bravely from the conservative assumption that de- 
mocracy is a much more demanding form of government 
than Liberalism has led us to believ e The new conserva 
tism will therefore reaffirm boldly the four great con 1- 
tions that men like John Adams set upon the success o 

free government , 

Democracy cannot exist apart from the spirit an orms 
of constitutionalism If men insist on their eternal rig 
govern themselves, they must govern through safe, so er, 
predictable methods If the majority is to rule jus 
must prove itself "persistent and undoubted on a 
casions, prove itself extraordinary on speci oc » 
and deny itself access to those areas where 1 

dwells and the conscience pricks 

Democracy cannot exist unless three * 

'«ue, and property— are 'W*' 1 / a ”“8 



the people, for knowledge is essential to wise decision, 
virtue to unforced obedience, and property to personal 
independence and social progress 

Democracy cannot function at a level of excellence, 
perhaps in these times at any level at all, unless it can 
summon up and support skilled and prudent leaders m 
every center of power in die gnat society. 

Democracy is not and cannot be made a substitute for 
religion, and lliose who worship it mvite their own do* 
stmction To the contrary, American democracy cannot 
exist for long apart from die spirit and forms of the 
Judaco-Chnstian vision 

These are only the bare bones of a reformed dicory of 
American conservatism, and they will not rise and walk 
about until Uie men who lead the Right evil on them for 
help ui concrete political and social situations Even then 
dicy will provide no unmistakable directions to nun who 
must decide whether to raise or lower taxts, expand or 
contract social security, deal or not deal with the Soviet 
Union Rut they will provide, I repeat, an mlt Itcctual and 
spiritual context within which the conservative mission 
of the next generation may be pursued with vigor and 
confidence Whether put forward as a revised version of 
the common American tradition suitable for general con- 
sumption, a fresh interpretation of the common tradition 
designed primarily for conservatives, or simply a philos- 
ophy of sc If -conscious American conscrv atism — and it will 
doubUess be made to take on all three guises at oncel— 
this bundle of idea* would stem to enjoy excellent pros- 
pect* for an increasingly popular and useful future Fol- 
lowing Crane Brin ton and several others, I would give it 
the generic label of "pessimistic democracy" — "pessi- 
mistic" because it raises bard questions about man, bberty, 
equality, progress, and popular government and gives 
them only paitly hopeful answers, "democracy" because, 
for all the illusions it has cast away, it has no final doubts 
of the practical and spiritual superiority of constitutional 
democracy over all other forms of government that have 
ever been tned or could ever be imagined Some adher- 
ents of this faith seem to think that "realistic* or "tough- 


fion tf;!n ° r tVCn S H? t,ca *" mi ?Vt be a better desenp- 

““”«*■ and * 11 Tb-rt » the sort if 

conservative must male [or limisdf Mv 
for him thl! **“»" hM fort about been made 

ment A 3 US b'ends that tile conservative commit- 
steadfact democrats must henceforth be "sober, 

■ and dc r rc " ' V,A «■“ » >■■> time to abandon 
shorn r P’. 'V* n ° bme to esaggerate its virtues and 
cralTm * ' ri ' i ,S ftadicals, rtactionanes, and even lib- 
, tt cont, niH. to wandtt into evtrinie positions in 
nt tss scarc h for the consolations of philosophy , but 
Watties have a special duty, now as always, to steer 
C T SC between hope and despair, between 
P r ion and reality Of all the isms that contest for tho 
egiance of Americans, conservatism has least right or 
eason to degenerate into mere ideology 

nce a 8 aln vie arc reminded of the discomforts of be- 
g a conservative, especially an American conservative 
*>r fommitment to democracy means thit Liberalism 
1 ma,nfatn Jts histone dominance over our minds, and 
a tonservative thinkers will continue as well-kept but 
creasinglv restless hostages to the American tradition 
commitment to progress means that liberalism will 
cep its role as pace-sutcr m the arena of politics, and 
a ^ collscrvaf ‘ ve doers will continue to spend far too 
tnuch of their time fighting the reformers and then adjust- 
ing to their reforms Our commitment to greatness means 
that America is becoming increasingly involved in a 
revolutionary world in which a conscious pursuit of na- 
tional purpose may be the price of no more than shaky 
survival, and that all of us, conservatives and liberals and 

Hon- joiners alike, may have to become revolutionaries 
Ourselves, or bf treated as expendable Genuine conserva- 
tives learn soon enough to bear the indignities of sub- 
scribing to a thankless persuasion, but no men C3n be 
expected to bear the shame of being declared irrelevant, 
obsolete, and even subversive 

We are still many years away from deciding whether, 
under physical and intellectual conditions that even now 
' we cat » barely imagine, we must nii_ct tho challenge of 


world-revolubon with a revolution of our own In the 
meantime, there is work to be done, the -work of preserv- 
ing and improving the American Republic, in which con- 
servatives and liberals, not to mention reactionaries and 
radicals, can join with a will. If conservatives have less 
hope of glory — that is, of the thanks of posterity — than 
liberals, they may none the less take comfort in the knowl- 
edge that the free and orderly society would dash itself 
to pieces without their restraining hand If they have less 
hope of success — that is, of the thanks of their contempo- 
raries — they may none the less take heart from the sur- 
prising and beneficial results of the conservative revival 
These results are especially visible at that level of Ameri- 
can life on which this book has fixed attention the world 
of principle, prejudice, insight, and argument, the world 
of ideas To have refurbished conservottsm as a badge of 
honor, to have awakened millions of men on the Right to 
an awareness of their conservatism, to have disinterred 
the Conservative tradition to serve as a standard of cul- 
tural criticism, to have reminded all Americans of the 
essential message of the founding fathers, to have con- 
tributed to a broader understanding of American life, to 
have toughened our dominant Liberalism for the hard 
pull ahead, even to have suffered liberals who appropri- 
ate the traditional wisdom of conservatism — this is a 
record of which one short generation of American con- 
servatives can well be proud 

If their pride now persuades them to go forward with 
the grand attempt to build a prudent conservatism 
worthy of the giants of the past, all Americans may be 
die gainers The knowledge that they had sobered the 
American spirit without taming it, and thus had enlight- 
ened the American vision without blinding it, would be 
thanks enough for dedicated men of the thankless persua- 
sion It is, in any case, for them to prove that conserva- 
tism can be a healthy force in a restless country with 
vast problems to solve, in an embattled country with vast 
dangers to endure 


This bibliography aims at suggestion rather than exhaustion. 
It is intended as an aid to fuxther investigation of American 
conservatism, not as a full rendering of books, articles, and 
other materials examined in the course of this study It 
would have been a weary and largely superfluous task, to list 
all the items that 1 read with profit and often with pleasure— 
for example, the speeches of Burke and Calhoun, novels of 
Disraeli and Sinclair Lewis, essays of Sumner and Agnes 
Repphcr, opinions of Marshall and Field, poems of Coleridge 
and Fessenden, and letters of a half-dozen Adamses I have 
therefore pruned it of hundreds of titles and have added sym- 
bols — B for bibliography, CB for critical bibliography, BN 
for bibliographical footnotes — to those books or articles tn 
which the reader may find useful listings of primary and other 
sources I have been somewhat more expansive tn listing 
primary works for the past twenty-five years 


Four books, quite varied in purpose and temper, furnish an 
introduction to the giants of the Anglo-American Conservative 
tradition F J C Hcamshaw Consetxofism in England 
(London, 1933) B, Russell Kirk The Conservative Mii^ 
and ed (Chicago, 1954), B, Peter Viereck. Corum'atwm from 
John Adams to ChurchiU (Fnnceton, 1956). R- J Nkhite, ed. 
The Conservative Tradition (London, 1950) B A special 
study of importance is Benjamin E Lippincott The Victorian 
Critics of Democracy ( Minneapolis, 1938) Morton Auerbach 
The Conservative Illusion (New York, 1959) B, despite the 
narrow pedanticism of its definition of Conservatism and a faulty 
reading of the message of several modern American conservj 
fives, projects Coosurv atism all the way back to Pfato vn^ 
considerable skilL 



Donald J Greene The Politics of Samuel Johnson (New 
Haven, 1960), is persuasive enough to leave one wondering 
if Johnson, rather than Burke, should not be hailed as the 
Creat Source of modern Conservatism In addition to Burke 
and Johnson, the pantheon of British Conservatism might be 
extended to include Ceorge Canning, Thomas Carlyle, Lord 
Randolph Churchill, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Benjamin 
Disrath, John Keble, W E H Lechy, Sir Henry Sumner 
Maine, W H Mallock, Cardinal Newman, Sir Robfrt Peel, 
George Saintsbury, the third Marquess of Salisbury, Sir Walter 
Scott, Robert Southey, Sir James Fitzjames Stephen, and 
William Wordsworth. Two articles of Sheldon Wolin help to 
extend (in time) and expand (10 range) the pantheon 
"Richard Hooker and English Conservatism,” Western Political 
Quarterly, VI (1953), 28, and “Hume and Conservatism,” 
American Political Science Review, XLVIII (1954), 999 

The literature of modem British Conservatism is plentiful 
and enthusiastic This highly selective list contains the best 
recent writings in the Conservative tradition L S Amcry 
‘ Conservatism/ Chambers's Encyclopedia, new cd , IV, 29 B, 
Arthur Bryant The Spirit of Conservatism (London, 1929), 
R A Butler cf al The New Conservatism (London, 1955), 
Sir Geoffrey Butler The Tory Tradition (London, 1957), 
Lord Hugh Cecil Conservatism (London, 1912) B, David 
Clarke The Conservative Faith in a Modem Age (London, 
1947), David Clarke et al Conservatism, 1945-1950 (London, 
1950). Walter Elliot Toryism and the Twentieth Century 
(London, 1927), Keith Felling Toryism A Political Dialogue 
(London, 1913), What Is Conservatism? (London, 1930), and 
"Principles of Conserv atism," Political Quarterly, XXIV (1953), 
129, Peter Goldman Some Principles of Conservatism (Lon- 
don, 1956), Qumtin Hogg (Viscount Hailsham) The Case for 
Conservatism (West Drayton, 1947). A M Ludovici A De- 
fence of Aristocracy (London, 191s), and A Defence of Con- 
servatism (London, 1927). Angus Maude et al The Cood 
Society (London, 1953). Lord Percy of Newcastle The 
Heresy of Democracy (London, 1954 ), Kenneth Pickthom 
Principle* or Prejudices (London, 1943). T E Utley Essays 
in Conservatism (London, 1949), and Modern Political 
Thought (London, 1952), Pcregnne Worsthome "Democracy 
v Liberty?,” Encounter, VI (1956), 5, “The New Inequality," 
Encounter, VI (1936). *4. and Conservative Thoughts Out 
of Season," Encounter, XI (1958), 21 The Conservative 
Political Centre in London is a fountain of tracts written is the 



Conservative spirit In addition to some of the books and 
pamphlets already listed, see such examples as Great Conserva- 
tives (1953), Tradition and Change (1954), The New Con- 
servatism (i955). World Perspectives (igS5)» T he Responsible 
Society (1959). and, from the pens of the gingennen known 
as the 1 Bow Croup,” Principles m Practice ( 1961 ) 

More difficult to classify as Conservative but impossible to 
overlook are T S Eliot’s influential The Idea of a Christian 
Society (New York, 1940), as well as After Strange Gods 
(New York, 1934), Notes toward the Definition of Culture 
(London, 1948), and The Literature of Politics (London, 
*9SS ), Hilaire Belloc The Servile State, 3rd ed. (Lon- 
don, 1927), Colm Brogan The Democrat at the Supper 
Table (London, 1945), Herbert Butterfield History end 
Human Relations (London, 1951), G K Chesterton The 
Outline of Sanity (London, 1926), Christopher Dawson 
Religion and Culture (London, 1948). Christopher Hollis’s 
Contributions to The Tablet, W R Inge Our Present Discon- 
tents (New York, 1939), and England, rev ed (London, 
»9S3), Douglas Jerrold The Necessity of Freedom (London, 
1938), and Wyndham Lewis The Art of Being Ruled (New 
York, 1926), and Rude Assignment (London, 1950) The 
writings of Michael Oakeshott, especially his contributions to 
the Cambrulge Journal ( 1947- *9S») — of which he was general 
editor — and his inaugural lecture at London entitled Political 
Education (1951), are, on several counts, in a class by them- 
selves See Neal Wood “A Guide to the Classics Ihe Skepti- 
cism of Professor Oakeshott." Journal of Pohhc*, XXI (i959), 
647, Richard Wollheim “The New Conservatism in Britain, ” 
Partisan Review, XXIV (1957), 539. which is a useful intro- 
duction to both Oakeshott and Herbert Butterfield, Noel 
Annan “Revulsion to the Right," Political Quarterly, XXVI 

(1955). *U 

If the glorious name of Sir Winston Churchill is surprisingly 
absent from any of these lists, that is because the greatest of 
twcnticth-ccntury Conservatives has steadfastly refused, for all 
his literary skills, to reflect upon and then write down the 
principles that have animated his career — thus proving himself 
a genuine Conservative. For an interesting attempt to place 
him in the line of Conservative descent, see Stephen R. 
Granbard Burkr, Disraeli, and Churchill The Politics of 
Pencil runcC (Cambridge, >961) 

For Cauadian variation* on the Bntish theme, see Arthur 
U. M Lower "Conservatism The Canadian Variety,” Con- 



fluence, II (1953), 7*. A E Pnnce “The Meaning of Con- 
servatism,” in Five Political Creeds (Toronto, 1938), Frank H 
Underhill “The Revival of Conservatism in North America," 
Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Lll, senes 3 
(1958), ». 

The Literature of modern American Conservatism Is not 
quite so easy to identify, but certainly these items should be 
on the list Bernard I Bell Crisis in Education (New York, 
1950). and Crowd Culture (New York, 1952). Thomas I 
Cook, untitled comments m Ifopktns Reoieto, Fall 1951, 
Raymond English “Conservatism and the State,” Virginia 
Quarterly Review, XXXII ( 1956), 50, and "Of Human Free- 
dom,” Modern Age, III (1958-1959), 8, M Stanton Evans 
"A Conservative Case for Freedom," Modern Age, IV (1960), 
364. John Hallowell The Moral Foundation of Democracy 
(Chicago, ig54). Anthony Harrigan ’Is Our Administration 
Conservative?" Catholic World, April 1954, “Thoughts on the 
Managerial Class," Frame Schooner, Summer 1953. a “d “Th e 
Realities of the American Situation,” Catholic World, March 
1957, Kirk The Conservative Mind B, A Program for Con- 
servatives (Chicago, 1954) B, Academic Freedom (Chicago, 
1955). Beyond the Dreams of Avarice (Chicago, 1956). Tros 
fleets for Conservatives (Chicago, 1956), The American Cause 
(Chicago, 1957), The Intelligent Womans Guide to Con- 
servatism (New York, 1957), and “The Poet as Conservative," 
The Critic, Feb -March i960, Frank S Meyer ' Freedom, 
Tradition, Conservatism," Modern Age, IV (i960), 355, and 
his many contributions to National Review under the title 
4 Principles and Heresies”, Robert A Nisbet The Quest for Com- 
munity (New York, 1953), and “Conservatism and Sociology, 
American Journal of Sociology, LVIII (195a). 167, Stanley 
Parry “The Restoration of Tradition,” Modern Age V (1961), 
135, Peter Viereck Conservatism Revisited (New York, 1949 ), 
Shame and Glory of the Intellectuals (Boston, 1953), aQ d The 
Unadjusted Man (Boston, 1956), a fair description of Professor 
Viereck, Richard M Weaver The Ethics of Rhetoric (Chicago, 
1953), Ideas tiave Consequences (Chicago, 1948), "Up^from 
Liberalism,” Modem Age, III (1958-1959), 21, and “Mass 
Plutocracy," Notional Review, November 5, i960, Francis G 
Wilson The Case for Conservatism (Seattle, 1951), A 
Theory of Conservatism,” American Political Science Review, 
XXXV (1941), 29. “The Ethics of Political Conservatism,^ 
Ethics, LIU ( 1942), 35, and ''Pessimism in American Poll tics. 
Journal of Politics, VU (1945), 125, Donald A. Zoll Con- 



“ d » Philosophy of Personality," Modem Age, IV 
S»W» 160 In addition, one may find examples of Conscrva- 
ve ught in almost every issue of those two short-lived 
periodicals. The American Review (1933-7). 

V Seward Colhas, and Measure (1949-50) The former 
van re pository of conservative m usings of every possible 
ety distributism, agrarianism, monarchism, neo-SchoIasti- 
‘ sn *. guildum, crypto-Fascism, the New Humanism, tradi- 
p° S£n ' ^h^ue republicanism, feudalism, and, unfortunately, 
tancomo, See Albert Stone. "Seward Collins and the Amcn- 
^ eview .” American Quarterly, XII (i960) 3 Modem 
& e ’ a quarterly founded in 1957 by Russell Kirk and earned 
0 by the Institute for Philosophical and Historical Studies, is 
trune of antt-Liberal thought Since 1959 Modern Age 
also earned "The Burke Newsletter,” an extremely useful 
“to Burkean scholars 

‘mcult to classify, but of the greatest importance in any 
account of the upsurge of antl-Liberalism in a forceful 
minority of American intellectuals. are the writings -of Leo 
Strauss, especially Natural Right ami History (Chicago, 1953). 
/ru, ^ nc v °eg«lm, especially The Sew Science of Politics 
(Chicago, 1952), and the colossal Order and Uistory, 3 vols. 
(Baton Rouge, 1956-1937) See "The Achievement of Enc 
VoegeUn,” Modem Age, HI (1959), 182, for an ldra of the 
latter’s status among intellectuals of the Right The influence 
°* Strauss, like that of Reinhold Niebuhr, defies the bound- 
***** of political allegiance 

, The starting point for a study of Southern agrananism is 
Take My Stand (New York, 1930, 1951) Other examples 
of this ofishoot of the Conservative tradition are Herbert 
Agar "The Task for Conservatism,” American Review, Iff 
(*934), x. Land of the Free (Boston, 1935). and Pursuit of 
Happiness (Boston, 1938), Agar and Allen Tate, eds Who 
Owns America? (Boston, 1936), Donald Davidson “Itl Take 
My Stand A History,” American Review, V (193S). 3 01 » and 
Southern Writers in the Modem World (Athens, Ga , 1958). 
Davidson, ed The Attack on Leviathan (Chapel Hill, 1938), 
Frank Owsley. "The Pillars of Agrarianism,” American Re- 
mew, IV (1935), 529. John Crowe Ransom et at “The 
Agrarians Today,' Shenandoah, 111 ( 19S 2 ). J 4. Louis D. 
Rubin, jr, and Robert D Jacobs Southern Renascence 
(Baltimore, 1953), especially the contributions of Robert B 
Heilman, Richard M Weaver, and Andrew Nelson Lytle, 
Allen Tate "Notes on Liberty and Property," American Re- 



view, VI {1936), 596, and "What Is a Traditional Society?,” 
American Review VII (1936), 376, Richard M Weaver et al 
‘The Tennessee Agrarians," Shenandoah, III (1952), 3 In 
addition, ses Auerbach The Conservative Illusion, chap iv. 
Manning J Dauer "Recent Southern Political Thought,” 
Journal of Polity, X (1948), 327, Manan Irish "Recent 
Political Thought in the South,” American Political Science 
Review, XLVI (195a}, 1a 

The essence of Catholic political thought is captured o this 
rcpresen'ative list J F Cronin Catholic Social Principle* 
(Milwaukee, 1930) B, Martin Hillenbrand Power and Morals 
(New York, 1949), Ross J S Hoffman The Organic State 
(New York, >939), and The Spirit of Politics and the Future 
of Freedom (Milwaukee, 1951), Hoffman and Paul Lcvack, 
eds Burke’s Politics (New York, 1949), an effective and 
symbolic umoa of Burkean Cousertatism and Catholic political 
thought. Natural Law Institute, University of Notre Dame, 
Proceedings (1947- ), Thomas F Neill The R'se and 

Define of Liberalism (Milwaukee, 1953), John A Ryan and 
Francis J Boland Catholic Principles of Politics (New York, 
J943) B{ Tobn A Ryan and Moorehouse F X Millar The 
State and the Church (New York, 1922), an earlier version 
of Bjan and Boland Fulton J Sheen Liberty, Equality and 
Fraternity (New York, 1938), and Freedom under Cod (Mil- 
waukee, 1940), Yves R. Simon Philosophy of Democratic 
Government (Chicago, 1951), Frederick D Wnhelmsen “The 
Conservative Catholic,’' Commonweal, February ao-April 3, 
19S3. including discussion, “The Conservative Vision,” Com- 
monweal, June 24, 1955, and "The Alienated Professor,” 
Commonweal, April 6, 1956 The monthly Catholic World Is 
full of articles written in a Conservative vein Anthony Har- 
ngan and Francis G Wilson (above, page 274) might also 
be Included in this list, while Hoffman and YVdhelmsen are no 
less in debt to Burke than to St Augustine and St Thomas 

Since no two writers agree 011 the boundaries, principles, or 
personnel of European Conservatism, a list similar to those 
above would raise more questions than it would answer At 
ttie very least, the writings of these men— not all of them 
genuine Conservative*, to be sure — would seem to demand 
consideration Henri Fr£d£rse Aroiel, Maurice Barr^s, Louis 
de Bonald, F A R de Chateaubriand, Juan Donoso Cortes, 
Johann Gustav Drojsen, Gughelmo Ferrero, Johann Go‘tlieb 
Fichte, Fnednch von Gentz, E L. von Geriach, Fraojois 



Guizot, Karl Ludwig von Haller, G W F Hegel, J, C von 
Herder, Heinrich Leo, Joseph de Maistre, Fnedrich von der 
Marwitz, Mettemich, Justus Moser, Adam Muller, Novalis, 
Pierre Le Play, Friedrich von Raumer, Friedrich von S a vigny, 
Friedrich von Schlegel, Oswald Spengler, F. J Stahl, Hyppolite 
Tame, Alexis de Tocquevdle, and Louis VeuiUoL In addition, 
the writings of such varied thinkers as Bertrand de Jouvenel, 
Charles Maun as, Jos4 Ortega y Gasset, and Wilhelm Ropke, 
as well as the speeches of such statesmen as Adenauer and de 
Gaulle, are essential to an understanding of contemporary 
European Conservatism See also Ludwig Freund “The New 
American Conservatism and European Conservatism, - Ethics, 
LXVI ( 1955), lo, Carl J Fncdnch “The Pohtica] Thought 
of Neo-Liberalism,” American Political Science Review, XLIX 
(*955)» 5°9« BN, B Harms, ed Volk und Reich der 
Deutschen (Berlin, 1929), II, 35, Klemens von Klemperw 
Germany s Hew Conservatism (Princeton, 1957), with an 
introduction by Sigmund Neumann, Erik von Kuehnelt- 
Leddibn “The New Conservatism in Europe,” Southwest 
Review, XL (i9S5>, 1. whoso definition of Conservatism em- 
braces everyone from Raymond Aron to Nicolas Berdyaev, 
A. C Kunz Die Konsenaticf Idee (Innsbruck, 1949), 
Mannheim " Das (Conservative Denkcn.‘ Archio jur 
senschaft und Sozuilpohtik, LVII (1927), 68, 471, translated 
and repnnfed in Mannheim Essays on Sociology and Social 
Psychology (London, 1953) BN, Roberto Michels "Conserva- 
tism," Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, IV, 230 B, Thom a T 
Molnar French Conservative Thought Today," Modern Aag, 
HI (1959), 283, Hans Muhlenfeld Pohtik ohne Wunschbtjj^ 
(Munich, 1952), P R Rohden ” Deutscher und framosicher 
Konservatismus," Die Dioskuren, III (1924), 9®, Hans Joachim 
Schoeps Konservative Emruerung (Stuttgart, 1958), an espe- 
cially important statement, W O Shanahan Th e SoeuI 
Outlook of Prussian Conservatism," Review of Politics, XV 
( 1953), 209 BN. Andrew G Whiteside. 'Ernst vo n Salo®^ 
A Study in Frustrated Conservatism,” South Atlantic Quarter}' 
LVI (1957), 234, Karl Wick “Der (Conservative Stoat,?, 
danker Pohteta, I (1948-9), Ux U l 9. Francu G Wil*^ 
The New Conservatives m Spam,” Modem Age V 

149 _ , 

H A- Kissinger The Conservative Dilemma Refl ettJ0 
on the Political Thought of Mettemich," American p^,. 
Science Revteu, XLVIII (1954). 1 0*7, wakes an inter^ 



distinction between the “historical conservatism’’ of Buike and 
“rationalist conservatism” of Mettemich 

For a clever and not unusual attempt to kidnap Burke and 
press him Into the service of American Liberalism, see A A 
ftogow “Edmund Burke and the American Liberal Tradition, 
Antioch Revtew, XVII (1957), 255 
An inquiry into the psychology of conservatism can begin 
with the many references listed in D D Egbert and Stow 
Persons, eds Socialism and American Life (Princeton, igs 2 ), 
II, 368-75 T. W Adorno ei al The Authoritarian Personality 
(New York, 1950), and A B Wolfe Conservatism, Radical- 
ism, and Sctenh^c Method (New York, 1925) must both be 
used with care Indeed, the former should be read only in 
Conjunction with R Chnstio and Marie Jahoda, eds Studies 
uv the Scope and Method of ' The Authoritarian Personality” 
(Glencoe, I1L, 1954) Herbert McClosky “Conservatism and 
Personality,” American Political Science Review, LII (1958), 
vj, should be read with due attention to the comments of 
WiUmoore Kendall and Morton J Fnsch in the same volume 
pp 506, U08). as well as McClosky’s rejoinder (p im)^ 
Norman ft. Phillips 'Genetics and Political Conservatism,” 
Western Political Quarterly, XII (1959), 753, traces the rela- 
tionship between conservatism and the "inheritance theory of 
human development “ See also bis “The Conservative Implica- 
tions of Skepticism,” Journal of Politics, XVIII ( 1956)1 28 


Theie has been a great deal of informative writing about 
American political thought I doubt that any student would 
need to go much beyond this list Carl Becker Freedom and 
Responsibility in ihe American Way of Life (New Yoik, 1945) , 
Daniel Boors tin The Census of American Politics (Chicago, 
>953), Henry Seidel Canby Everyday Americans (New York, 
1920), \V J Cash The Mind of the South (New York, 1941), 
Francis W Coker “Amen can Traditions Concerning Property 
and Liberty,” American Political Science Review, XXX (1938), 
1, Henry Steele Cornmager The American Mind (New 
Haven, 1950), Commager, in J W Chase, ed. Years of the 
Modem (New York, 1949), chap i. Merle Curt! The Growth 
of American Thought (New York, 1943I CB, The Social Ideas 
of American Educators (New York, 1935), and The Roots of 
American Loyalty (New York, 1946), Russell Daienport et 



at VS A The PermanerJ Revolution (New York, 1951), 
Ralph Hemy Gabnel The Course of American Democratic 
Thought, and ed (New York, 1956), Louis Hartz- The 
Liberal Tradition in America (New York, 1955)! Richard 
Hofstadter The American Political Tradition (New York, 
1948) CB, J Mark Jacobson The Development of American 
Political Thought (New York, 1932) B, Cornelia Le Boutilher 
American Democracy and Natural Law (New York, 1950), 
Robert S and Helen M Lynd Middletown (New York, 1929), 
and Middletown m Transition (New York, 1937), Alphetis T 
Mason and Richard H Leach In Quest of Freedom (New 
York, 1959), Richard D Mosier Making the American Mind 
(New York, 1947). Gunnar Myrdal An American Dilemma 
(New York, 1944), chaps I, xx, xxi, Remhold Niebuhr The 
Irony of American History (New York, 1952), Henry Baroford 
Parkes The American Experience (New York, 1947). Vernon 
L. Partington Main Currents in American Thought (New 
York, 1930) B, Ralph Barton Perry Puritanism and Democracy 
(New York, 1944) BN, and ChractensticaUy American (New 
York, 1949), Stow Persons American Minds (New York, 
1958) B, Merrill D Peterson The Jeffersonian Image in the 
American Mind (New York, i960), David M Potter People 
of Plenty Economic Abundance and the American Character 
(Chicago, 1954). David Riesman The Lonely Crowd (New 
Haven, 1950), Arthur M Schlesmger, sr The American a* 
Reformer (Cambridge, 1950), Cumn V Shields “The Ameri- 
can Tradition of Empirical Collectivism,” American Political 
Science Review, XL VI (1952), 104, T V Smith The Demo- 
cratic Tradition in America (New York, 1941), W Lloyd 
Warner et al Democracy in Jonesvdle (New York, 1949), 
Warner American Life Dream and Reality (Chicago, 19S3) 
B, Robin M Williams, jr American Society (New York, 1951), 
chap xi, Francis G Wilson The American Political Mind 
(New York, 1949) 8, B F Wnght, jr . American Interpreta- 
tions of Natural Law (Cambridge, 1931), and "Traditionalism 
m American Political Thought,' Ethics, XLVM {1937), 86 


For the early penod the literature is excellent See the 
relevant chapters in Curb, Gabnel, Hartz, Hofstadter, Jacob- 
son, Mason and Leach, Pamngton, Persons, and Wilson, as 
well as E P Alexander A Revolutionary Conservative lamer 

28 o 


Duane (New York, 1938), Joseph L Blau “Tayler Lewis 
True Conservative” Journal of the History of Ideas, XIII 
(*95*). 218, Harold W Bradley "The Political Hunking of 
George Washington,” Journal of Southern History, XI (1945), 
469, Jesse T Carpenter The South as a Conscious Minority, 
1789-1861 (New York, 1930) B, H Trevor Colboum “John 
Dickinson, Historical Revolutionary," Pennsyloania Magazine 
of History, LXXXIII (1959), 271, Richard N Current Daniel 
Webster and the Rue of National Conservatism (Boston, 
195S). and "John C Calhoun, Philosopher of Reaction," 
Antioch flew etc. III (1943), 223, Martin Diamond 'Democ- 
racy and The Federalist American Political Science Review, 
LIII (1959), 52, Lewis S Feuer “James Marsh and the Con- 
servative Transcendentahst Philosophy,” New England Quar- 
terly, XXXI (1958), 3, Marvin Fisher ‘The Pattern of Con- 
servatism in Johnsons Rasselas and Hawthorne’s Taler," Jour- 
nal of the History of Ideas, XIX (1958), 173, Stanley Cray 
“The Political Thought of John Winthrop,” New England 
Quarterly, III (1930), 681, Louis Hacker Alexander Hamilton 
m the American Tradition (New York, 1957), Zoltan Haraszti 
John Adams and the Prophets of Progress (Cambridge, 1952), 
John T Horton James Kent A Study in Conservatism (New 
York, 1939), Norman Jacobson “Political Realism and the 
Age of Reason The Anti-Rationalist Heritage in America," 
Review of Politics, XV (1953), 446, Harry V Jaffa Crisis of 
the House Divided (Carden City, 1959), esp pt IV, Cecelia 
Kenyon “Alexander Hamilton Rousseau of the Right," Polit- 
ical Science Quarterly, LXXIII (1958), 161, Russell Kirk 
Randolph of Roanoke A Study in Conservative Thought 
(Chicago, 195a), Kirk The Conservative Mind, chaps 111, 
v-vii B, Adrienne Koch “Hamilton, Adams and the Pursuit of 
Power," Review of Politics, XVI (i954)> 37, Leonard W 
Labaree Conserooiirm in Early American History (New York, 
1948}. A B Leavelle and T L Cook “George Fitzhugh and 
the Theory of American Conservatism," Journal of Politics, 
VII (1945)1 *45. John C Livingston “Alexander Hamilton 
and the American Tradition," Midwest Journal of Political 
Science, I ( 1957), 209, Charles E Memam American Political 
Theories (New York, 1903), chaps, id, vii BN, Marvin Me>ers 
The Jacksonian Persuasion (Stanford, 1957). Perry Miller 
and T H. Johnson, eds The Puritans (New kork, 1938) CO, 
Herbert L Osgood, “The Political Ideas of the Pun tans," 
Political Science Quarterly, VI (x8gz), 1, 201, Saul K. Padover 
"Ceorge Washington — Portrait of a True Conservative," Social 



Research, XXII {1955), 199, Stanley Pargellis "Lincoln’s 
Political Philosophy,” Abraham Lincoln Quarterly, 111 (1945), 
3, Neal Riemer 'James Madison and the Current Conserva- 
tive Vogue" Antioch Review, XIV (1&54), 458, Clinton 
Rossiter Seedtime of the Republic (New York, 1953) BN, 
and “The Legacy of John Adams," Yale Review, XLVII 
( >957). 528, James P Scanlan " The Federalist and Human 
Nature,” Review of* Politics, XXI (zgsQ), 657 , David B 
Walker "Rufus Choate A Case Study in Old Whiggery 
Essex Institute Historical Collections. XCIV (1958), 334, 
Ccnea M Walsh The Political Science of John Adams (New 
York, 1915), W Hardy Wickwai "Foundations of American 
Conservatism,” American Political Science Review, XLI ( 1947), 
1105 BN, B F Wright, jr “The Federalist on the Nature 
of Man," Et/ncs, LIX (1949), DO 2 » P** 2 
Those who wish to look deeper into the men and ideas of 
Chapter V may begin with James T Adams Our Business 
CmiliMtion (New York, 1929), Thornton Anderson Brooks 
Adams Constructive Conservative (Ithaca, 1951), Irving Bern- 
stein "The Conservative Mr Justice Holmes,” New England 
Quarterly, XXIII (1950), 435, John M Blum The Republican 
Roosevelt (Cambridge, 1954), Bernard E Brown American 
Conservatives The Political Thought of Francis Lteber and 
John W Burgess (New York, 1951) B, Thomas C Cochran 
and William Miller The Age of Enterprise (New York, 194a) 
B , Edward S Corwin Liberty against Government (Baton 
Bouge, 1948), C B Cowing “H L Mencken The Case of the 
'Curdled' Progressive,” Ethics, LX1X (1959), 255. Curti 
Growth of American Thought, chap xxv CB, Arthur H Dakin 
Paul Elmer More (Princeton, 1960), Joseph Dorfman The 
Economic Mind m American GivnUzatian (New York, 1946- 
1959). v< il 111 BN, Sidney Fine Lcwsez Foire and the General- 
Welfare State (Ann Arbor, 1956), Gabriel Course of American 
Democratic Thought, chaps xui, xvui, xix, »x, Hairy X 
Gnvetz From Wealth to Welfare (Stanford, 195°) B, Eric F 
Goldman Rendezvous with Destiny (New York, 1952) CB, 
Charles G Haines The Revival of Natural Law Concepts 
(Cambridge, 1930), chaps turn, Morrell Heald "Business 
Tnought m the Twenties Social Responsibility,” American 
Quarterly, XIII (lgfll), 126 BN, Bichard Hofstadter Social 
Darwinism in American Thought (Philadelphia, 1945) B, and 
American Political Tradition, chaps vu, ix, x, u CB, Robert A 
Hume Runaway Star an Appreciation of Henry Adams 
(Ithaca, 1951), Kuk The Conservative Mind, chaps 1, xU B, 



Richard W Leopold Ehhu Root and the Conservative Tradi- 
tion (Boston, 1954), Edward R Lewis A History of American 
Political Thought from the Civil War to the World War (New 
York, 1937) B, Robert G McCloskey American Conservatism 
in the Age of Enterprise (Cambridge, 1951), Charles E 
Merriam American Political Ideas (New York, 1920), chaps 
xi-xu BN, I Francis Paschal Mr Justice Sutherland (Prince- 
ton, 1951), Arnold M Paul Conservative Crists and the Rule of 
Law (Ithaca, i960}, James W Prothro Dollar Decade Business 
Ideas in the 1920's (Baton Rouge, 1954), Carl B Swisher 
Stephen] Field (Washington, 1930), Benjamin R Twiss Law- 
yers and the Constitution (Princeton, 1942), Thorstein Veblen 
Theory of the Leisure Class (New York, 1899), Austin Wanen 
“The New Humanism’ Twenty Years After,” Modern Age, III 
(1958-1959), 81, Wilson American Political Mind, chap 
nil B, Woodrow Wilson "Conservatism, True and False,” 
Princeton Alumni Weekly, December 16, 1908, Irvin G 
Wylhe The Self-Made Man m America (New Brunswick, 
N J , 1954), and "Social Darwinism and the Businessman,” 
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, CIII 
(1959), 629, BN 


The conservatives themselves may often be at a loss for 
words, but their critics, both savage and fnendly, are never 
See Daniel Aaron Conservatism, Old and New," American 
Quarterly, VI (1954), 99 BN, Cabnel Almond The Political 
Attitudes of Wealth," Journal of Politics. VII ( 1945), 213 BN, 
Cycille Amavon Les N ouveaux Conservateurs Am£ricalns“ 
Etudes Anglatses, IX (1956), 97, Thuiman Arnold The Folk- 
lore of Capitalism (New Haven, 1937), Auerbach The Con- 
servative Illusion, chaps ill, v-vu, Marver Bernstein “Political 
Ideas of Selected American Business Journals," Public Opinion 
Quarterly, XVII (1953), 258 BN, D W Brogan Recipe for 
Conservatives" Vi'.'jmia Quarterly Review, XIII (l937)» 3 21 » 
Stuart Gerry Biown "Democracy, the New Conservatism, and 
the Liberal Tradition in America," Lthics, LXVI ( 19SS)> i» 
John II Buiuel “The General Ideology ol American Small 
Business,” Political Science Quarterly, LXX (1955), 87. E M 
Bums Ideas in Conflict (New York, 1960), chaps vm-ani, B, 
Wdliasi G Cuktoa ’Amen can. Intellectuals and American 
Democracy,” Antioch Review, XIX ( 1959)- Richard 



Chase "Neo-Conservatism and American Literature,” Com* 
mentary, XXIII (1957), 254, Phillip C Chapman "The New 
Conservatism Cultural Criticism v Political Philosophy,” 
Political Science Quarterly, LXXV (i960), 17, A- S Cleve- 
land “N A M Spokesman for Industry?” Harvard Business 
Review, XXVI (1948), 357, Francis W Coker. “Some 
Present-Day Cntics of Liberalism,” American Political Science 
Re view, XLVI1 (1953), t BN, Bernard Cnck “The Strange 
Quest for an American Conservatism," Review of Politics, XVII 
( 1955), 359, Robert Gorham Davis “The New Criticism and 
the Democratic Tradition,” American Scholar, XIX (1949-50), 
9, and tho exchange of ideas in American Scholar, XX (1950), 
86, 218, Raymond English “Conservatism the Forbidden 
Faith,” American Scholar, XXI (1952), 393, John Fischer 
"Why Is the Conservative Voice so Hoarse?,” Harper's, March 
1956, John K Galbraith "The Businessman as Philosopher,” 
Perspectives, Autumn, 1955, Franklyn S Hannan. “A New 
Look at the New Conservatism” Bulletin of A A, U P, XLI 
(»955)» 444. Chadwick Hall “America's Conservative Revolu- 
tion," Antioch Review, XV (1955), 204, Gertrude Himmel- 
farb “The Prophets of the New Conservatism," Commentary, 
IX (1950), 78, Sidney Hook “Bread, Freedom and Business- 
men" Fortune, September, 1951, Samuel P Huntington 
‘ Conservatism as an Ideology" American Political Science Re- 
view. LI (1957), 454. BN, Thomas P Jenlon Reactions of 
Major Groups to Positive Government (Berkeley, 1945), Ralph 
L. Ketcham “The Revival of Tradition and Conservatism in 
America,” Bulletin of A A U P, XLI (1955), 425, Irving 
Kristol ' Old Truths and the New Conservatism,” Yale Review, 
XLVH (1957). 365, Bernard L Kronick "Conservatism A 
Definition,” Southwest Social Science Quarterly, XXVIII 
(1947), 171 BN, James McBurney “The Plight of the Con- 
servative in Public Discussion,” Vital Speeches , March 15, 
195°, H, M Macdonald “The Revival of Conservative 
Thought," Journal of Politics, XIX (1957), 66, Alpheus T 
Mason “Business Organized as Power,” American Political 
Science Review, XLIV (1950), 323 BN, Eric L. McKitnck. 

" 'Conservatism* Today,” American Scholar, XXVII ( 1957), 
49, C Wright Mills “The Conservative Mood,” Dissent, I 
(i954), William J Newman The FutlLtarlan Society 
(New York, 1961), Rewbold Niebuhr, "American Conservatism 
and the World Crisis,” Yale Review, XL (1951), 385, Stanley 
Fargelhs tt aL comments in Newberry Library Bulletin, III 
(i953)» 73. lames W Pro thro "Business Ideas and the 



American Tradition” Journal of Politics, XV (1953). 67 BN, 
John P Roche “I’m Sick of Conservatism,” New Leader, 
August 22, 195s, Frederick Rudolph “The American Liberty 
League,” American Historical Review, LVI (1950), 19, Lau- 
rence Sears “Liberals and Conservatives," Antioch Review, 
XIII (1953), 361, Arthur M Schlesinger, jr The Vital Center 
(Boston, 1949), chap 11, ‘The Need for an Intelligent Con- 
servatism,” New York Times Magazine, April 2, 1950, 'The 
New Conservatism m America A Liberal Comment," Con- 
fluence, II (1953), 61 and “The New Conservatism Politics of 
Nostalgia, ’ The Reporter, June 16, 1955, Ceorge Stigler “The 
Politics of Political Economists," Quarterly Journal of Eco- 
nomics, LXX1II (1959), 522, David Spitz 'Freedom, Virtue, 
and the New Scholasticism,” Commentary, XXV (1959), 3*3. 
Harold W Stoke “The Outlook for American Conservatism," 
South Atlantic Quarterly, XII (1942), 266, Cushing Strout 
“Liberalism, Conservatism and the Babel of Tongues," Partisan 
Review, XXV (1958), 101, F X Sutton ct al The American 
Business Creed (Cambridge, 1956), esp pt. L BN, Peter 
Viereck, Heinz Eulau, Paul Bixler “Liberals and/oersus 
Conservatives,” Antioch Review, XI (1951). 387, Morton 
White “Original Sin, Natural Law, and Politics," Partisan Re- 
view, XXIII ( 1956), 218, W H Whyte, jr Is Anybody Listen- 
ing? (New Tork, 1952), Esmond Wnght ‘Radicals of the 
Right," Political Quarterly, XXVII ( 1956), 366 The publication 
of Russell Kirk’s Conservative Mind in 1953 called forth a 
number of interesting commentaries on American conserva- 
tism, the most provocative of which were Cordon K Lewis, 
“The Metaphysics of Conservatism,” Western Political Quar- 
terly, VI (1953). 728, Ralph C Ross “The Campaign against 
Liberalism, contd ,** Partisan Review, XX ( 1953). 5®8, Page 
Smith “Russell Kirk and the New Conservatism,” New Meilco 
Quarterly, XXV ( 1955), 93, E V Walter ' Conservatism 
Recrudesced," Partisan Review, XXI (1954). S* a . Harvey 
Wheeler "Russell Kirk and the New Conservatism," Shenan- 
doah, VII (*956), 20 

The Marxist view, interesting if predictable, of the revival 
of American conservatism can be studied in L L Horowitz 
“New Conservatism,” Science and Society, XX ( 1956), *. and 
C. B Macpherson, “Edmund Burke and the New Conserva- 
tism," Science end Society, XXII (1958), 231 

An introduction into the very special problem of Remhold 
Niebuhr may be sought in the article by Morton White just 
cited and in Harry It- Davis and Robert C. Good, eds 



Reinhold Niebuhr on Politics (New York, i960), C. W, Kegley 
and R \V Bretall, eds Reinhold Niebuhr His Religious, 
Social and Political Thought (New York, 1956) B, chaps. 
V'vm, x, Gordon Harbnd. The Thought of Reinhold Niebuhr 
(New York, 1960), William Lee Miller "The Irony of Rem* 
hold Niebuhr,” The Reporter, June 16, 1955 
An arresting statement of the notion of “pessimistic democ- 
racy” is Crane Bnnton The Shaping of the Modem Mind 
(New York. 1953 ). chap vul 


The categories that follow are by no means watertight 
There are books in each that might )ust as properly have 
been listed under another heading 

The ideas and assumptions of modem American conservatism 
are best studied in the writings and speeches of its three great 
public figures — Hoover, Eisenhower, and Taft Taft charac- 
teristically, is the hardest to pin down, and one must search 
wearily in the indexes to the Congressional Record and New 
York Times for his best thoughts See generally Dwight D 
Eisenhower (R L TreueafeL, ed ) Eisenhower Speaks (New 
York, 1948), (Allan Taylor, ed ) What I Believe (New York, 
1953), and Peace with Justice (New York, 1961), Herbert 
Hoover American Individualism (New York, 1922), A Boy' 
hood in Iowa (New York, 1931), The Challenge to Liberty 
(New York, 1934), Addresses upon the American Road (New 
York, 1938- ), and Memoirs (New York, 1951-2), vols. II, 
III, Robert A- Taft A Republican Program (Cleveland, 1939). 
Useful insights into Taft*s mind may be found in W S While 
The Taft Story (New York, 1954), and Duncan Norton-Taylor 
“Robert Taft's Congress,” Fortune , August 19S3 See also 
Sheldon Clueck, ed- The Welfare State and the National Wel- 
fare ( Cambridge, 1952), which reprints articles or speeches by 
Bernard Baruch, Vannevar Bush, Harry Byrd, Donald David, 
John Foster Dulles, Dwight D Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, 
Raymond Moley, Edwin G Nourse, Roccoe Pound, Donald 
Richberg, and Waiter E Spahr, II L. Marx, jr , ed The Wel- 
fare State ( New York, 1950) B, which reprints articles or 
speeches by James F. Byrnes, Dulles, E^enhower, Moley, Taft, 
and others, Raymond. Moley Uoui ta Keep Our Liberty (New 
York, 1951), Robert Moses “Why I am n ConsenaUve,” 
Saturday EccTung Port, February 11, 1936, Clarence A Ran. 



dal] A Creed for Free Enterprise (Boston, 1952), and Free- 
dom' t Faith (Boston, 1953), Henry M Wrlston Challenge to 
Freedom (New York, 1943) The Reader's Digest and Saturday 
Evening Post are full of contributions written in the spint of 
middle-of-the-road American conservatism. 

Arthur Larson has made the most concerted attempt to 
delineate the political principles of Eisenhower conservatism in 
his A Republican Looks M His Parti / (New York, 1956), and 
What We Are For (New York, 1959)1 both book* perhaps a 
shade more liberal to outlook and purpose than the president 

A case study in the practical diffi culties of governing America 
on conservative principles u Edwin L. Dale, jr , Conservatives 
in Power (Carden City, i960) 

Ultra-conservatism at its angriest and most biting may be 
sampled in Norman Beasley Politics Has No Moral* (New 
York, 1949), Edgar C Bundy Collectivism in the Churches 
(Wheaton. Ill, 1958), Eugene W Castle Billions, plunders 
and Baloney (New York, 1955) , Raoul E Desvetnioe Demo- 
cratic Despotism (New York, 1936), John T Flynn, The Road 
Ahead (New York, 1949). and The Decline of the American 
Republic (New York, 1956), Caret Carrett. The People's 
Pottage (Caldwell, Idaho, 1953), Rosalie M Cordon Nine 
Afen Against America (New York, 1958}, Vivien Krlletnj 
Toil, Tost*, and Trouble (Caldwell, Idaho, 1953), Douglas 
MacAithux (John M Pratt, ed.) Revitalizing a Nation 
(Carden City, 195a), Clarence Manion The Key to Peace 
(Chicago, >951), Chcsly Manly The Twenty-Tear Revolution 
(Chicago. 1954), Thomas J Norton. Undermining the Consti- 
tution (New York, lgjo), Samuel B Fettengill Smokescreen 
( Kingsport, Terns, 1940), PtUenjpR and Paul C Bartholomew. 
For Americans Only (New l oik, 1944), Henry PloWdeepcr 
“Liberals" and the Constitution (Washington, 195a). E. Merrill 
Root Collectivism on the Campus (New York, :95s). $ Well* 
Utley The American System. Shall We Destroy It? (Detroit, 
S936), R«i4 A. Worm set Foundation* T heir Power and 
Influence (New York, 1958) In addition, *uch Journal* ** the 
Chicago Tribune and I leant papers, such columnists a* Sokob 
sky and Pegler. such periodical* as Human Events, Facts 
Forum, and American Stctcury, and the brochure* ft ‘“eh 
organization* a* the American Enterprise Association. *" or 
America, Daughters ci the American Revolution. lolercfUegUto 
Society of Individualist*, and the Committee for Constitutional 
Cavtrmacnl deserva close attention. Perhaps the richest gold 



mine of ultra -conservative speeches, editorials, and articles is 
the appendix to the Congressional Record 
Ultra-conservabsm with a higher intellectual voltage is ex- 
pressed Sn William F Buckley, jr Cod and Man at Yale 
(Chicago, 1951), McCarthy and His Enemies, with Brent 
Bozell (Chicago, 1954), an audacious if unsuccessful attempt 
to solve the dilemma for decent ultra-conservatives presented 
by Senator McCarthy, and Up From Liberalism (New York, 
1959), James Burnham Congress and the American Tradition 
(Chicago, 1959), Francis S Campbell (American pseudonym 
of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn) The Menace of the Herd 
(Milwaukee, 1943), W H Chamberlin The Evolution of a 
Conservative (Chicago, 1959), George B Cutten “Credo of an 
Old-Fashioned Conservative,” American Mercury , November 
1942, F A Harper Liberty A Path to Its Recovery (Irving- 
ton-on-Hudson, 1949), Anthony Hamgan, ed The Editor and 
the Republic Papers and Addresses of William Watts Ball 
(Chapel Hill, 1954), Willmoore Kendall "The 'Open Society' 
and Its Fallacies,” American Political Science Reekie, LIV 
( i960), 97a, Frank Kent "America Is Conservative,” American 
Mercury, October 1935, Rose Wilder Lane The Discovery of 
Freedom (New York, 1943), Felix Morley The Power in the 
People (New York, 1949), Freedom and Federalism (Chicago, 
*959), and Cumption Island (Caldwell, Idaho, 1956), a 
Utopian fantasy guaranteed to delight all enemies of the Six- 
teenth Amendment, Paul Palmer. "Arc Conservatives Naturally 
Stupid?” American Mercury, February 1939. Isabel Paterson 
The God of the Machine (New York, 1943), Leonard E Read, 
ed Essays on Liberty ( Irvmgton-on-Hudson, 1952), Henry 
G Weaver The Mainspring of Human Progress (Irvmgton- 
on-Hudson, 1953), Roger J Williams Free and Unequal 
(Austin, 1953). 

The National Review, founded in 1955 by William F. 
Buckley, jr , and carried on by him with the aid of such bril- 
liant anti-Liberal intellectuals (if they will pardon the descrip- 
tion) as James Burnham, John Chamberlain, Willmoore Ken- 
dall, Russell Kirk, and Frank Meyer, is far and away the most 
interesting and rewarding journal of the Right. A sample of its 
early days is in Chamberlain, ed , The National Review 
Reader (New York, 1957) See also An Evening t nth National 
Review (New York, i960). The debate among Ernest Van 
Den Haag, Henry Hazbtt, and Frank S Meyer o \« die con- 
servative posture toward Keynes, National Review, June 4, 30, 
i960, is the kind of writing that could be found nowhere else. 



Another publication of considerable interest is Faith and Free - 

The most widely admired statement of ultra-conservatism 
by a political figure is Barry Gold water: The Conscience of a 
Conservative (Shepherdsville. Ky, 1960) 

From the avalanche of boohs, pamphlets, and occasional 
pieces written in defense of the "Southern way of life" since 
the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown t> Board of Education 
( 1 0S4). the following may be singled out as especially im- 
portant and revealing Donald Davidson “The New South and 
the Conservative Tradition," Notional Reoicu), September 10, 
i960, James Jackson Kilpatrick The Sovereign States (Chi- 
cago, 1957), Kilpatrick and Louis D Rubin, eds The Lasting 
South (Chicago, 1957), Richard Weaver ‘The Regime of the 
South,” Notional Renew, March 14, 1959, William D Work- 
man, jr The Case for the South (New York, i960) See also 
the issue of Modem Age (vol II, Fall, 1958) devoted to the 
conservative South, especially the articles by Kirk, Robert Y 
Drake, John Court, Edward Stone, and Christine Benagh 

The vox clomantls In etemo of pure individualism is heard 
in Frank Chodorov One is a Crowd (New York, 1952), and 
The Income Tax Root of All Evil (New York, 1954). Albert 
J Nock Memoirs of a Superfluous Man (New York, I943)> 
and Our Enemy, the State (New York, 1935), Ayn Rand The 
Fountainhead (Indianapolis, 1943), and Arnhem (Los Angeles, 
1946) Miss Rand presents as big a problem to the philosophers 
of ultra-conservatism as McCarthy did to the practitioners, as 
witness the exchange between E Merrill Root and Garry Wills 
(an easy winner) in National Review, January 30, February 27, 

That peculiar brand of conservatism, economic Liberalism, 
is expressed enthusiastically in John Chamberlain The Roots of 
Capitalism (Princeton, 1961), Fred R Fairchild Understand- 
ing Our Free Economy (New York, 1952), F A Harper 
Gaming the Free Market (Irvington-on-Hudson, 19S2), F A 
Hayek The Road to Serfdom (Chicago, 1944), Indwduchsm 
and Economic Order (Chicago, 1948), and The Constitution of 
Liberty (Chicago, i960), a grand summing-up of his influential 
ideas that ends with a postscript entitled “Why I Am Not a 
Conservative", Henry Hazlitt Economics in One Lesson 
(New York, 1946), and The Failure of the New Economic* 
(Princeton, 1959), Hazlitt, ed The Critics of Keynesian Eco- 
nomics (Princeton, 1960), WiUford I King The Keys to Pros- 
perity (New York, 1948), L von Mises Omnipotent Government 



(New Haven, 1944), Bureaucracy (Glasgow, 1945), Manm4 
Chao* (Imngton-on-Hudson, 1&47). Socialism (New Haven, 
igSi), Planning for Freedom (South Holland, I1L, 195a), and 
The Anii-CapitatisUc Mentality (New York, 1956), William 
A. Paton Shirtslecue Economic* (New York, 195a) The 
Foundation for Economic Education is a wellspnng of books 
and pamphlets that speak in the laissez-faire tradition. The fisc- 
volume publication of the Foundation, Essay* on Liberty 
( Irvmgton-on-Ifudson, 19SR-S4), is a nch collection of “liber- 
tarian" tracts, most of them taken from The Freeman. 

Henry Hazlitt The Free Mont Library ( Princeton, 1956), 
is a critical bibliography of moro than 550 works “on the phi- 
losophy of individualism." 

The American Individual Enterprise System, lit Nature and 
Future (New York, 1946), published by the Economic Princi- 
ples Commission of N A M . 1* a unique, ambitious, exhaustive 
attempt to state the basic creed of American business. 

American conservatism rt its most thoughtful and suggestive 
is exptessed by Herbert Agar A Declaration of Faith (Boston. 
1952), ft rather long sup from his works m the agranaa vein, 
Arthur A Ballantine “The Conservative Is Sometimes Right," 
Atlantic Monthly, C LAX 1 1 (1943), 9S, Walter Herns, free- 
dom, Virtue, and the Fust Amendment (Raton Rouge, 1957). 
Cordon K. Chalmers I he Republic and the Person (Chicago. 
»9S»). Crcnvillc Clark “Conservatism and Civil Libert) “ 
VihJ Speeches, ]ul) 15, 193S, Jolrn \l Clark Ahcmutite to 
Serfdom (New York, 1948). RuswU W. Davenport The 
Dignity of Man (Ntw York, 1935), Peter Dmckcr. The Con- 
cept of the Corporation (New York, 1946), The Future of 
Industrial Man (New York, 194*). The New Society (New 
York, 1950 1, and Landmark* of Tomorrow (New York. 1957). 
Raymond English, rd. The Lssentud* of Freedom (Cambter, 
Ohio, i960), Ralph E. Flanders The Amcrscsn Century 
(Cambridge, 1950), and Platform for America (New York. 
193O), Harry D Gideons* Political Education, American 
Council on Education, 1951. Cordon Harrison Rood to the 
Right (New York, 1954), August lleckscbcs A PcXtm of 
PcJOK'a (New York. 1947}. and "Where Arc the American 
Conservative*?* Confluence. II (1933). 54. TVamal Ilewesr 
DrtnJruliie for Liberty (New York. 1947). Vincent C. Hop- 
kin* Tl* Coosrfvative Concern." Thought, XXXI (1956), 
a 7; Samuel P Huntington. Tha SoUur end the State (Cam- 



Or Forfeit Freedom (Carden City, 1947). Enc A. Johnston 
America Unlimited (New totk, 1944), Cccrgc Kcnnan "Some 
Disturbing Forces In Our Society.** Congressional Record, vok 
XCL\ (83rd Congress), A26S0, Clark Kerr "What Became of 
the Independent Spirit?” Fortune, July 1933, Frank It Knight 
Freedom and Reform (New York, 1947), and Intilllgcnce end 
Democratic Action (Cambridge, i960), Walter Llppmann 
Public Opinion (New York, 192a), The Cood Society (Boston, 
1937). The Public Philosophy (Boston, 1955), and the follow- 
ing columns In the NeiO "fork Herald Tribune ‘The Jlaniling- 
Down State** (January 5, 1950), The Coronation of a Queen” 
(June a, 1933), and “The American Idea" (February 22, 
1954), Wilham M McGovern and David S Collier Radical* 
and Conservation (Chicago, 1937), William C Mullendore 
"Our Tragic State of Confusion" Modem Age, IV ( 1959" 
i960), 14. Edgar M Quceny The Spirit of Enterprise (New 
York. 1943), Fred I Raymond The Limit 1st (New tork, 
1947). Henry C Simons Economic Policy for a Free SocUty 
(Chicago, 1948). Sumner Slichtcr The American Economy 
(New York, 1950), Henry L SUmson and McCccrge Bundy, 
On Active Service (New York, 1948), Alan Valentine The 
Age of Conformity (Chicago. 1954). Henry C Wallich The 
Cost of Freedom (New York, i960), James C Worthy Big 
Business and Free Men (New York, 1959), David McCord 
Wright Democracy and Progress (New York, 1930), Capital- 
ism (New !ork, 1931), and "When You Call Me Conservative 
— Smile," Fortune, May igsi Some of these books and 
articles might just as easily have been placed in the Ust of 
distinctly Conserv alive works beginning at p 274 The editorial 
pages of Life, the New York Herald Tnlnine, and New York 
Times should be added to this list. 


For an adequate Introduction to the radical Right, see 
Arnold Forster and Benjamin Epstein The Trouble-Makers 
(Carden City, 1952), Ralph L Roy Apostles of Discord 
(Boston, 1953), Leo Lowenthal and Norbert Cuterman 
Prophets of Deceit (New York, 1949), Daniel Bell et al The 
Neu> American Right (New York, 1955), especially the articles 
by Richard Hofstadter ("The Pseudoconservative Revolt") 
and S M Upset (“The Source* of the 'Radical Right’"), 
Victor C Fexldss “Populist Influences on American Fascism," 



Western Political Quarterly, X (1957), 350, and "Ezra Pound 
and American Fascism," Journal of Politics, XVII (1955). *73 
For a much more adequate introduction to American author- 
itarianism, see David Spitz Patterns of Anti-Democratic 
Thought (New York, 1949) BN 
Lawrence Dennis's most important "Fascist” writings are 
The Coming American Fascism (New York, 1936), and The 
Dynamics of War and Revolution (New York, 1940) 

Two well-known books that should be read together are 
Robert A. Brady Business as a System of Power (New York, 
1943) R, and James Burnham The Managerial Retiolutton 
(New York, 1941) They should be followed at once by 
Frederick Lewis Allen The Big Change (New York, 1952) 8, 
David Lihenthal Big Business A New Era (New York, 1953). 
John K Galbraith American Capitalism (New York, 1952) 
On the conservatism of the American party structure, see 
A. Ranney and W Kendall Democracy and the American 
Party System (New York, 1956), Murray Stcdman “American 
Political parties as a Conservative Force," Western Political 
Quarterly, X (1957), 392 

On the problem of tension between relativism and absolutism 
»n conservative thought, see John Livingston, "Liberalism, 
Conservatism, and the Role of Reason". Western Political 
Quarterly, IX (1956), 641, BN 
The "conservatism” of American labor is best described in 
Frank Tannenbaum A Philosophy of Labor (New York, 19S 1 ), 
Daniel Bell ' Labor's Coming of Middle Age," Fortune, Oc- 
tober 1951, and "The Next American Labor Movement,” 
Fortune, April 1953, the “conservatism” of indifference in 
C Wright Mills White Collar (New York. 1951) 

A classic statement of the joint function of liberalism and 
conservatism is in Ralph Waldo Emerson Works (Boston, 
1903), I. *25, 293 

The injection of Conservative values into American diplomacy 
is considered in Clinton Rossiter * The Old Conservatism and 
the New Diplomacy,” Virginia Quarterly Review, XXXII 
( 1956), 28, Kenneth Thompson "Liberalism and Conservatism 
in American Statecraft,’* Orbu, II (1958), 457 See Hans J 
Morgenthau "Another 'Great Debate’ The National Interest 
of the United States," American Political Science Review, 
XLVI (1952), 961, for a frank attempt to set up a "realist” 
(Conservative) versus “utopian" (Liberal) confrontation in 
the grasp and conduct of foreign affairs 
Other useful studies are A. A- Btrle The Twentieth Century 



Capitalist Revolution (New York, 1955). Rowland Berthoff 
"The American Social Order A Conservative Hypothesis," 
American Historical Review, LXV (1960), 495, BN, Howard 
R. Bowen Social Responsibilities of the Businessman (New 
York, 1953) B, F E Dessauer Stability (New York, 1949). 
"Freedom and the Er pan ding State," Proceedings of the 
Academy of Political Science, XXIV (1950), No 1, John K 
Galbraith The Affluent Society (Boston, 1958), Albert Lauter- 
bach Economic Security and Individual Freedom (Ithaca, 
1948) B, C Wnght Mills The Power Elite (New York, 1959). 
which proves how useful a silly book can be, and vice versa, 
Hans J Morgenthau Dilemmas of Politic* (Chicago, 195 s ). 
Samuel Eliot Monson ' Faith of a Historian,” American His- 
torical Review, LVI (1951), 261, Allan Nevms ‘‘Should 
American History Be Rewritten?’ Saturday Review, February 
6, 1954, David Riesman Individualism Reconsidered (Glencoe, 
Id, 1954)1 Adlai E Stevenson Major Campaign Speeches 
(New York, 1953), Frank Tannenbaum ‘ The Balance of 
Power in Society,” Political Science Quarterly, LXI (1946), 
481, Clement E Vose 'Conservatism by Amendment, 1 / Yale 
Review, XLVII (1957), 176, William H Whyte, jr The 
Organization Man (New York, J956) 

Alan Westni has made two useful studies of the behavior of 
the radical Right "The John Birch Society,’ Commentary, Au- 
gust, 1961, and "The Deadly Parallels Radical Right and Radi- 
cal Left,” Harper ' * Magazine, Apnl, 1962 


Aaron, Daniel, 282 
abolitionists, 89-90 
Adams, Brooks, 157-158, *13, 

Adams, Henry, 156-157, 160, 
ai3, 219, 221, 22a, 324 
Adams, James T, 281 
Adams, John, vm, 102, 107, 

*15. 118, 125, 127, i3i, 

*34. 154. 155. 160, 164, 

*79. 183, 198, 204, 219. 

261, 262, 264, 267, as model 
of American conservatism, 
114-115, 226, political the- 
Qry, 22, 110-115, 133. 140 
Adams, John Quincy, 125 
Adams, Samuel, 87 
Adenau< r, Konrad. 277 
Adler, Mortimer, 225 
Adorno, T W , 278 
Agar, Herbert, 80, 225, 229, 
*75, 289 

agrarianism, 48-49, 89, 120, 
in South, 228-232, 275- 

Alexander, E P , 279 
Alger, Bruce, 170 
Alger, Horn bo, 150 
Allen, Frederick Lewis, 291 
Almond, Gabriel, 2S2 
American Bar Association, 148 
American Council of Christian 
Churches 171 

American Enterprise Associa- 
tion, if 3, 286, 289 
American history from con- 
servative point of view, 84- 

American Liberty League, 
161, 243 

American Mercury, 286, 287 
American political thought 
quality, 161-163, 214, char- 
acter today, 236-237 

American political tradition, 
19, 67-84, >62, 167, 206, 

234, 258, 262, 264. 268, 

269, forces shaping, 68-71, 
204-207, principles, 71-84, 
unity, 67-69, literature, 278- 
. *79 

Amertcan Heowtn, 229, 275 
American Revolution, 70, 74, 
86-87, 102, 107, 264 
Amery, L S , 272 
Ames, Fisher, 115-1**4 **8, 
131, 221 

Amiel, Frederic, 270 
anarchy, 14, *39, J ®9 
Anderson, Thornton, 281 
Annan, Noel, 273 
aaU intellectualism, 6a, 213, 

192, 315, 252-253 

apathy, 181-182 
aristocracy, 33, 88, 202, in 
Conservative tradition, 24- 
25, 48-49 57, 65, 66, m 
American political tradition, 
72. 206, 355, m early Amer- 
lean conservatism, 99, 112, 
125, in laissez-faire con- 
serv absm, J34* l 3®, **» 

American Conservatism, 
*55**5®, 1 SS-JS9. to mod- 
ern American conservatism, 
185-166, 268, in America, 

Aristotle, 16, 51, 124, 219 
Arnavon, Cycille, 282 
Arnold, Thurman, 209, 282 
Aron, Raymond, 277 
Auerbach, Morton, vui, 271, 

authoritarianism, 166-167 



Babbitt, Irving. 153-159. 4>9 
Ballantine, Arthur, 186, 389 
Barr is, Maurice, 276 
Bartholomew, Paul C • 286 
Baruch, Bernard, 3S6 
Beale, Truxton, 150 
Beard, Charles, 237 
Beasley, Norman, 173, 286 
Becker, Carl, 70, 27? 

Beecher, Henry Ward, 133, 


Bell, B 1 , 235, 274 
Bell, Darnel, 290, 291 
Bellamy, Edward, 153 
Belloc. Hilaire, 373 
Benagh, Christine, 288 
Berdyaev, Nicolas, 277 
Berle, A. A., 291 
Bems, Walter, 225, 289 
Bernstein, 1 , 281 
Bernstein, M 282 
Berthoff, Rowland, 89, 293 
Bierce, Ambrose, 56 
Bdl o{ Rights, &-J-B8, 104 
Bixler, Paul, 384 
Bland, Richard, JOi 
Blau, Joseph L , 280 
Bledsoe, Albert, 126 
Blum, John M , 281 
Boland, F J , 232, 276 
Bolin cbroVe, Lord, iB 
Bona! j, Louis dc, 276 
Boorsun, Darnel, 214, 225, 

a6a, 278 

Boucher, Jonathan, lOi 
Bouscaien, Anthony, 172 
Bowen, Howard, 252, aga 
Bowles, Chester, 245 
Bozell, Brent, 287 
Bradley, Harold W , 280 
Brady, Robert A , 167, 291 
Braxton, Carter, 102 
BretaB, R. \V, 285 
Brewer, David J , 149 
Bncier Amendment, x75 
Brmton, Crane, 225, 263, 268, 


Brogan, Colm, 273 
Brogan,© IV, 282 
Bromfield, Louis, 174 
Brown, Bernard E , 181 
Brows, Stuart Gerry, 282 
Brownson, Orestes, 133, 243 

Bryan, William Jennings, 90, 
95, >29 

Brjant, Arthur, 373 
Bryce, James, 83 
Buckley, William F , jr . 171. 
173, 178-180, 220, 351. 263, 

Buniy, Edgar C , 17 1 
Bundy, McCeorge, 225, 286, 

Bunzel, John H , 282 

a " bss, John W , 141, 148 
e, Edmund, viii, 4, 55, 
56, 91, 108, 137. 1S4. >55. 
159. >79, >97. 19 8 . 204, 
221, 226, 228, 201, 265, 
273, 275, 276. *78, as 
model Conservative, i5->7. 
219, political theory, vii, 25, 
36, quoted, ao, 23, 26, 35. 
„ 39. 43. S*. 87 
Buruham, James, 66, 172, 224. 
287, 291 

Buna, Arthur F , >74 
Burns, E M , 282 
Bush, Vannevar, 188, 285 
businessman role in Ameri- 
can civilization, >90, 251- 
255, 265 See also indus- 
Butler. David E, 83 
Butler, Nicholas Murray, >34. 

142, >48, 151, 161 
Butler, R A , 373 
Butterfield, Herbert, 273 
Byrd, Harry F , 173, 187, >95, 
328, 247, 3S5 
Byrne#, James F , 286 

Calhoun, John C, 120-124, 
126, 131, 133, 2ig, 3*8, 
329, 262, 365 
Calvin, John, S3J, 219 
Campbell, John A. 148 
Canby, Henry Seidel, 378 
Canning, George, 473 
Cape hart, Homer, 228 
Capitalism, 38, 90, 129, >38, 
203-307, 209, 255, 260, 
identified with democracy, 
152, 215 See also individ- 
ualism, economic, conserv- 
atism, busier fake, Liberal- 
ism, economic 


Carleton, William G, 283 

Carlyle, Thomas, 27 a 
Carnegie, Andrew, 135, 145. 
146-147, 151. *54, 161, 183, 
194, 261 

Carpenter, Jesse T , 280 
Carroll, Charles, 103 
Carter, James C , 14“ 

Carter, Landon, 102 
Carver, Thomas Nixon, 14° 
Case, Clifford, 174. 179. *81 
Cash, WJ, 378 
Castle, Eugene W , 280 
Cather, Willa, i$9 
Catholicism, 125, 232-234. po- 
litical theory, 224, 232-234. 

CrS Lord Hugh. 5 i. 372 

Chalmers, Cordon h , 225, 
Chamberlain, John, 9°. 1 ®9. 


Chambers, Whittaker, 17a. 

change, 28-31, 60, 83, 130. 
177, contrasted with reform, 
94-96 See also reform. 

c£pSphdh P C.283 

£&££ F * »■ 


Chesterton, C K., 273 
Chicago Tribune. 170*171 
Choate, Joseph H , 148-M9 
Choate, Rufus. 125 
Chodorov. F„U, l6 » JJ 8 
Christianity, 22, 70. 2ba - 
oho churches religion 
Christie, R-. 278 0 

churches, 27-28. 34. f3*44. 
church-state relations. 43-44. 

Ck'S.hJ* Lor.1 ItadolpS. W 

Churchill Sir Winston, 273 

Cicero. 16 

dvil rights, 176 

Civil War, American, 95, 120 

Clark, Grenville. aSg 

Clark, John Bates, 14® 

Claikl John M, 225. 2S9 
CLrke, David. a7» _ . 

olm structure, in Cooscrva- 


tive tradition, 24-25, 28, 53, 
65, in American political 
tradition, 7*. 81-82, 

American practice, 81-02, 
in early American conserva- 
tism, 99. m laissez-faire 
conservatism, 1 34-130, m 
modem American conserva- 
tism, 185 See also society 
Cleveland, A S , 283 
Cleveland, Grover, 140. 147 
Chnchy, Russell, 187 
Cochran, T C , 151. *8* 
Cogley, John, 232 
Coker, F W , 278, 283 

Colbouro. H Trevor. 280 

Colden, Cadwallader. 100-101 
Colend ge, Samuel Taylor. 4, 
28, 42, 198. *19. a6l > 2 7 a 
Collier, David S , 21, 29. 224. 

Colhns, Seward. 27S 
Commager, H S ,27“ , 

Committee for Constitutional 
Government, 280 
Committee for Economic De- 
velopment, 174 
Communism, 14. 77. 9*. 

244, 260 

community sec society 
concurrent majority, 123 
Congress, U S . 79. i°4. *4*’ 
142, 191. *47 

consent, 31 . e A « in 

conservatism defined . SjW. 

12-13, psychology of, 0-0. 
9, 46. 59. *78. BO 

4b, 59- *70. r: 

8, 59-60. practical, 8-g, as 
pkilosophy, 9-10. 
radicalism. 9. 10, »»-ai, 53, 
165, 169. distinguished 

from other isms, 10-15. ®9- 
and liberalism, 1**13. >4. 

54-59, 255-256. ddEculties 

of, 54. 63-64. *6°. *79. 
mission of, 9-t°* 51-54. 57. 
C6 177. 200, *41. 2 'J 3 ’, 111 
American political tradition, 
C^Xunspoculative nature 
of. ao-ai. 256-257 

Conservatism, vu, 114. 

defined 15-19. onpns, 15 
16 in Creat UnUin, 17. 4». 
127, 198. 2C,S . 3241 M °' 



372-273, In Europe, 17, 
276-278, principles, 17, 20- 
42, 64-66, 198-201, 220, 
230. 262, as mood, 46-51, 

56, 200, mission of, 51-54, 

57, 66, and Liberalism, 21, 
44, 49-50, 54-59, 262-263. 
contrasted with American 
conservatism, 127, 145, 197- 
201, 220-221, inadequacy 
In American environment, 
vii, 75, 118-119 131, 201- 
207, 212, 261-262, critique 

of 59-64 

Conservatism, American, 17, 
17*19, 98, 228-234. in co- 
lonial period, 98-102, 279- 
281, m Federalist penod, 
279-281, collapse in nine- 
teenth century, 117-119, 
persistence as minority atti- 
tude, 18-19, 155*160, 234, 
261-262, present standing 
and influence, 217-226, con- 
trasted with British Con- 
servatism, 127, 197-198, 

modem spokesmen, 219- 
226, literature, 274-276 
conservatism, laissez-faire, 
131-162, 183-196, 210, 228, 
260-261, 281-282, princi- 
ples, 131-146, spokesmen, 
146-151. conclusions on, 
151-154, in New Deal pe- 
riod, 161-162. as key to 
American mind, 214-216 
conservatism, American re- 
vival, v-\i, 3-4, 163-164, 
218-219, *34. 235- 2 33, 270, 
analysts of, 164-182, princi- 
ples, 164, 182-193, 19S- 
201, 266-268, conclusions 
on, 193-196, critique of, 
239-240, difficulties of, 216, 
2a >. 223, 247, 251. 357- 
258, 269 Identity of, 177- 
183, intellectual failure of. 
208-214, political and social 
record, 314 217. 240-246, 
266, “radicalism of, 94-96, 
152. 203, 204-206, political 
theory, 358-268, divisions 
in, 345-248. mission, 341- 
244, conditions fa /©ring. 

237-238, conditions frus- 
trating, 238-239, future, 
249-270, literature, 282-290 
Constitution, Bnhsh, 108 
Constitution, U S , 75, 79, 87- 
88, 117, 142, 145, 177, 206, 
2x1, framing of, 102-105, 
107, 116-117, character, 

103-105, cult of, 117. 228, 
140-141, 191 

Constitution of 1780 (Massa- 
chusetts), 87 

constitutionalism, 88, 147, in 
Conservative tradition, 32- 
33. 57, in American politi- 
cal tradition, 75. 79. 111 
American practice, 79. 10 3- 
104, in early American 
conservatism, 113-113, in 
laissez-faire conservatism, 
139-*4I. 2*1. <n modem 
American conservatism, 191- 
192, 267, and democracy, 
33-34, 267-268 
contract, freedom of, 136-137* 

Conwell, Bussell, 135-236, 


5K, Thomas 1 , 50, 168, 

274, 280 

Cooley. Thomas N , 148 
Coolidge, Calvin, 142, *47. 

Cooper, James Fenimore, 125 
Cooper, John Sherman, 174 
corporations, 254 
Cortes, Juan Doooso, 276 
Corwin, Edward S., 148, 281 
Cotton, John, 100 
Court, John, 288 
Cowing C B , 2S1 
Cram, Ralph Adams, I3g 
Crick, Bernard, 283 
Cronin, J F , 232, 276 
Cummings, e e , 181 
Current. Richard N , 2S0 
Curti, Merle, 278 
Cutten, George B , 287 

Dakin, Arthur H , 281 
Dale, Edwin L , 286 
Darwm, Charles, 131, >44, 


Darwinism, 151, 184 
Dauer, Manning J , 276 
Daughters of the American 
Revolution, 168, 2S6 
Davenport, John, too 
Da\ enport, Russell, 225, 263, 
275, 289 

David, Donald, 38s 
Davidson, Donald, 229-231. 

2S 2 . 275. 288 
Davis, Harry R , 284 
Davis, Robert Gorham, 283 
Dawson, Christopher, 273 
Declaration of Independence, 
87, 1.11 

de Gaulle, Charles, 377 
democracy, as ideal, 128, 130, 
in Conservative tradition, 
17. 19, 33*34, 37, 57. 61-63. 

98, in American political 
tradition, 72, 75, 119, w 
early American conserva- 
tism, 11a, 116, 120, in lais- 
sez-taire conservatism, 15** 
*54. 212, m modern Ameri- 
can conservatism, 184, 216, 
267, “pessimistic,” 268-269, 

democracy, as reality, 127, hi 
Constitution, 103-105, ti6- 
117, in nineteenth-century 
America, 117-119, 202, in- 
fluence on American Con- 
servatism, 201-202, 207, 

conditions of, 267-268 
Democratic Party, 129, 147. 
174, 245, 247 

Dennis, Lawrence, 107, 291 
Descartes, Rene, 51 
Dessauer, F E , 30, 292 
Desvenune, Raoul E , 286 
Dew, Thomas Roderick, i»6 
Dewey, John, 4, 171, 181, 
221-222, 237 
Dewey, 3 homas E , 173 
Diamond, Martin, 280 
Dickinson, John, 102 
Dillon, John F , 148 
"direct democracy, 79, 14* 
Disraeli, Benjamin, 20, 28, 29, 

Dnicker, Peter, 224, 252, 289 
Duane, James, 102 
Duliny, Daniel, ]r , 101 
Dulles, John Foster, 285 
duty, 38-39, 65 
Dwight, Timothy, 116, 125 

Eastland, James, 247 
Eastman, Max, 172 
economic growth, 176 
education, 21, 23, 34, in Con- 
servative tradition, 26-27. 
65, Jn American political 
tradition, 71, 82, 206, m 
American practice, 82, 181, 
in American Conservatism, 
ill, 222, in modern Ameri- 
can conservatism, 192, 267- 

Egbert, D D , 278 
Eisenhower, Dwight D , 4, 94, 
165, 173. 177, 178, 180, 
*95 *96, 222, 256, 259, 
at>3, political ideas, 102- 
*93. >98-201, 285 
Eliot, John, 100 
Eliot, T S , 21, 273 
Elliot, Walter, 272 
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 56, 
94, 131, 391 

English, Raymond, 39, 54. 
103, 108, 224, 262, 274, 
283, 289 

Epstein, Bsnianun, 290 
equably relation to liberty, 
24, of opportunity, 23, 134, 
*53, *87, in Conservative 
tradition, 23-25, 65, in 

American political tradition, 
72, 81-82, in American 

practice, 81-82, m early 
American conservatism, 99, 
ni-112, 121, in laissez- 
faire conservatism, 133, 
*37, *49. *54. in modem 
American conservatism, 
185, 267 

Estabrook, H R , 140-14*, *49 
Eulau, Heinz, 284 
Evans, Stanton, 225, 274 
Evarts, V4 illiam M , 148 
extri mism, right-wing, 4, J64, 
166-170. *78, 250, 258, 
290, 292 


Facta Forum, 386 
Fairchild, F R , 172, 2S8 
Faith and Freedom, 288 
family, 27-28, 34, 38 
Fascism, 14. 18. 167 
federalism, 79. 80, 83 
Federalists, 88-89, 106-117, 
1 18-119. 126. 159. 264-265 
Federalist, The, 105-106, 364- 

Felling, Keith, 61-G2, 27a 
Ferhiss, V C , 290 
Ferrero. Cughelmo, 276 
Fessenden, Thomas Creen, 


Feuer, Lewii S , 280 
Fichte, Johann Cottlieb, 276 
Field, Stephen J, 133, 141, 
1^4, 149. 161, 183, ig4. 

FiBeld, James W , 171 
Filmer, Robert, 100, 124 
Fine, Sidney, 281 
Fischer, John, 383 
Fisher, Marvin, 280 
Fiske, John, 150 
Fitzhugh, George, 134. 127 
F landers, Ralph, 188, 289 
Flynn, John T, 172, 208, 


Ford, Henry, 203, 240 
Forster, Arnold, 290 
Fortune, 291 
Foundation for Economic 
Education, 171 

founding fathers, U, S , 102- 
117, 116-117, 140, 258, 

364 370 

Franklin, Benjamin, 85, 86 
Freeman, The, 195-19Q 289 
French Revolution, 15-16, 

Freund, Ludw ig, 277 
Friedman, Milton, 174 
Friedrich, Carl J , 277 
Frisch, Morton J , 278 
frontier, 81, 86 
Frost, Robert, 225 

Gabriel, R H.379 
Galbraith, John K , 171, 236, 
283, 29 «, 292 
Galloway. Joseph, 10 1 
Gardner, Augusts P , 151 
Garrett, Garet, 172, 286 

Gary, Elbert H , 151 
Gcntz, Fnedrich von, 276 
Ceorgo, Henry, 159 
Ccrbch, E L von, 276 
Cerry, Elbridgc, 87 
Cideonse, Harry, 39, 225 289 
Cirvetz, Harry K , 167, 281 
Glasgow, Eden, 159 
Cluech, Sheldon, 190, 191, 


CodUn, E I_, 150 
Col dm an, Eric, 281 
Goldin an, Peter, 372 
Coldwater, Barry, 1*. 170, 

171, 181, 209, 220, 221, 
226, 251, 288 
Gompers, Samuel, 94 
Cood, Robert C . 284 
Cordon, Rosalie M , 286 
“Cospel of Wealth," 135* >36. 
146, 186 

government limits on, 32, 34- 
35, -*i, 113, nature of, 31* 
32.65. 137-138» 189**9* 
government, role of, 57-58. 
128. 233, in Conservative 
tradition. 32-35. ,45*46. 10 
American political tradition, 
99, in American practice, 
80-81, in oatly American 
conservatism, 99, in laissez- 
faire conservatism, 137-142, 

215, in modem American 
conservatism, 189-192 215- 

216, 252-253, 260, 266-267 
Crangers. 90, 129, 148, 149 
Grant, Madison, 159 

Crant, Ulysses S , 147 
Craubard, Stephen It , 273 

Cra>sc>n William J , 126 
Creen, William, 94 
Creen P, Donald J , 272 
Greenback Party, 90, 129 
Gregory, Darnel S , 135 
Griswold, A Whitney, 259 
groups, 27, 32, 34, 81, 253- 
254 „ 

Guizot, Francois, 277 
Guterman, Norbert, 290 
Gulhne, William D, 148 

Hacker. Louis, 84, 108, 225, 

Hadley, Arthur T , 134. >48 



Hadsham, Viscount, 32, 198, 

Hairoan, Franklm S , 283 
Haines, Charles G. 281 
Hall, Chadwick, 283 
Hailer, Karl Ludwig von, 277 
Halioweli. John, 224, 226, 

262, 263, 274 

Hamilton, Alexander, vu, 89, 
95, 104, 1°7, US, l»8, 131, 
192, 215. 226, 262, 264, po- 
litical theory,^ 105-110, as 
“conservative,'* 108-110 
Hammond, f H , 126 
Haiaszti, ZolUn, 280 
Harms, B, 277, 285 
Harper, F A , X72, 287, 288 
Harper, William, 126 
Hanigan, Anthony, 224, 232, 

263, 274, *87 
Hamman, Averell, 165 
Harrison, Gordon, 2S9 
Hart?, Louis. 70 80, 263, 379 
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 125, 


Hay, John, 160 
Hay< k, F A, 172, 208, 392 
Hazlitt, Henry, 172, 287, 288, 

Heald, Morrell, 281 
Hearns haw, F J C , 271 
Hearst papers, 171 
Hecier, Isaac, 125 
Heckscher, August, 174, 225, 
263, 289 

Hegel, G W F , 277 
Ileilman, Robert B , 275 
Henry, Patrick, 87 
Herder, J G von, 277 
Hevves, Thomas, 289 
higher law in Conservative 
tradition, 45-46, > n 

American political tradition, 
76, in early American con- 
servatism, 99, in laissez- 
faire conservatism, 143-144* 
152, in modem American 
conservatism, 194, 266 
Hill, David Ja>ne, 151 
Hilienbranii. Martin, 232, 376 
Hunmelfaxb, Gertrude, 34-35, 

Hiss, Alger, 171 
history, meaning of, 44-45. 4 7 , 
65, 73, 179. 209-210 

Hoffman, Paul, 171, 174 
Hoffman, Ross, 50, 224, 233, 


Hofstadter, Richard, 91, 168, 
171-172, 279, 281, 290 
Hollis, Christopher, 273 
Holmes, George Frederick, 


Holmes, Oliver Wendell, jr, 
5, 260 

Hook, Sidntj, 283 
Hooker, Richard, 16, 30. 219, 

Hoover, Herbert, 147, 161, 
265, 173, rg4, ig5, 1 96, 
226, 261, political ideas, 
182-193, 298-201, 285 
Hopkins, Mark, 138-139 
Hopkins, Vincent C, 389 
Horowitz, I L , 284 
Horton, J T, 280 
Hubbard, Elbert, 134. 150, 


Hughes, Charles Evans, 274, 

Hughes, Henry, 226 
Human Events, 286 
human nature, see man, na- 
ture of 

Hume Robert A , 281 
Humphrey, Hubert, 165, 178 
Hunt, H L , 171 
Huntington, Samuel P, 225, 
283, 289 

Hutchins, R M , 171, 325 

111 Take A ly Stand, 229, 375 
income tax, 149, 169 
individualism, 34, 57*59* 23°. 
233, 388, m Conservative 
tradition, 23, 27, 30, 35-36, 
40-42, 201, 204, in Ameri- 
can political tradition, 72- 
73, 76-77, 80-81. w Ameri- 
can practice, 76-77, in lais- 
sez-faire conservatism, 132, 
137, 147, 15 2 * >S4. 161, 
204, m American Conserva- 
tism, 156, in modem Amer- 
ican conservatism, 169-170, 
184, 189, 192-193, 301, 

360, 2G6, economic, 40-41, 
141, 167. 172, 243. m ultra- 

consuvaUsm, 177 

industrialization, inU S, 129, 



Industrial Revolution, 16 
inequality see equality 
Inge, W R , *73 
institutions, 23, 28 
Intercollegiate Society of In- 
dividualists, 121 
Irish, Marian, 276 
Ives, C P , 224 

Jackson, Andrew, 85, 89, 95, 
Jacksonian democracy, 1*7- 


acobs, Robert D , 275 
acobson, J Mark, 279 
acobson, Norman, 280 
affa, Harry V , 280 
ahoda, Mane, 278 
amcs, William, 6 

Jay, John, 107 
Jefferson, Thomas, vul, 4, 18, 
57, 7t. 85, 91, 114, 117. 
J24, 125, 131, 134, 140, 

15a. 154. 155. *59. 164, 

102, 210, 259-260, 261, 
265, as conservative/' 83- 

89, 95 

Jeffersonian tradition, X17, 
120, 126, 130, 137. 161, 

183, 203, 215, 226, 228, 

230, 259-260 

Jenkin. Thomas P , 192, 283 
Jerrold, Douglas, 273 
Jessup, John K , 173, 225, 289 
John Birch Society, 168, 292 
Johnson, Robert Wood, 289 
Johnson, Samuel, vm, 51, 251, 

Johnson, T H , 280 
Johnson, William Samuel, 102 
Johnston, Enc, xg4, 290 
Jouvenel, Bertrand de, 277 
judicial review, 79, 115, 141, 

judiciary, U S, 104, 115, 140, 

Kahn, A. E (“Fred”), 293 
Keble, John, 272 
Kegley, C W , 285 

Kellems, Vivien, 171, 286 
Kendall, WiUmoore, vii, 173, 
225, 278, 287, 291 
Ken nan, George, 225, 244, 

Kennedy, John F , 165, 256 
Kent, Frank, 195. 287 
Kent, James 118 
Kenyon Cecilia, 280 
Kerr. Clark, 290 
Ketchara, Ralph L , 283 
Keynes, John Maynard, 287 
Kilpatrick, James Jackson, 
225, 288 

King, Willford 1, 17 3 . 2 9* 
Kirk, Russell, it, 18, 29, 42, 
50, 108, 172, 198, 219-221, 
223, 226, 237. 262, a6 3, 
265, 271. 274, 275,, »8o. 
284, 287, 288, political 

theory, 219-220 
Kissinger, H A., 53. 3 77 
Klemperer, Klemens von, 277 
Knight, Frank H , 225. 29a 
Knights of Labor, 129 
Kocn, Adrienne, 280 
Knstol, Irving, 17, 242, 283 
Kronlck. B L, 283 
Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Erik von. 

Labaree, Leonard W , *01- 
102, 280 

labor, U S , 82, 94. *37. *49 
La Follette, Robert M , 90-91, 
, 95. *4 3 , 

land, in Conservative tradi- 
tion, 48-49 

Lane, Rose Wilder, 287 
Larson, Arthur, 174, *86 
Lasky, Victor, 172 
Laughlin, J Lawrence, 148 
Lauteibach, A , 292 
law, 30, 55 

Lawrence, Bishop William, 
*33. *43. *50, *53 
Lawrence, David, 172, 208 
Leach, Richard H , 279 
Leavetle, A. B , 380 
Le Boutilher, Cornelia, 279 
Lecky, W E H , 272 
Lee. Bracken, 17* 

Lee, Richard Hemy, 87 



Left: defined, 15, m America, 
97, 148-129, 162, 164, 176, 

^vacK, raui, 276 
Lewis, Fulton, jr , 171 
Lems, Gordon K , 282, 284 
lewis, John L , 94, 165 
Lewis, Sinclair, 213 
Lewis. Ta>Ier, 126 
Lewis, Wyndham, 2*3 
liberalism defined, 12, and 
conservatism, 12-13, 14, 54- 
59. 255-356 See also pro- 
gress! vism 

Liberalism, 83-64, and Ameri- 
can political tradition, 18, 
70-74, 78, joB, 338, m 
America, 70-71, 77, 96, 98, 

127, 130, 152, 154, 164, 

103, 207, 2J2, 240, 341, 

25’, 259-260, attack on, 

3l8-2ig, 233, 225-226, 233, 
263, 275, economic, ail, 

388-289 and Conservatism, 
3 J» 44. 49-50, 54*59. 262- 

liberty, 57, 152-153, in Con- 
servative tradition, 24, 35, 
37-42, 55, 57, 72, 76, in 
American political tradition, 
69, 73, ia early American 
conservatism, 99, 114. 121, 
m laissez-faire conserva- 
tism, 136-137. in modem 
American conservatism, 186- 
i8g, 267, 269, 270 See also 
rights of man 
Lieber, Francis, 125 

Ldfe’ntfw] , David, zo8, 253, 


Lincoln, Abraham vui, 25, 
262, 265, as 'conservative, ’ 

Lippmcotl, B F , 371 
Lippmann, Walter, 12, 173, 
174, 208, 225, 263. 265, 


Lipset, S M , 290 
Livingston, John C , 106, 291 
Livingston, \\illtam, 102 
Locke, John, 16, 100, 124, 


102, 213, 21S, 237, 344 
Leo, Heinnch, 277 
Leopold, Richard W , 282 

Lodge, Henry Cabot, 151, 

Lowell, A Lawrence, I4S 
Lowell, James Russell. 159 
Lowenthal, Leo, 290 
Lower, A R. M , 273 
loyalty, 10, 74-75 See also 

Ludovici, A M , 272 
Luhacs, J A , 225 
Lynd, Robert, 379 
Lytle, Andrew Nelson, 275 

MacArthur, Douglas, 171, 286 
Macdonald, H M , 283 
Madison, James, nu, 105-106, 
118, 140, 262, 264 
Marne, Henry Sumner, 273 
Maistre, Joseph de, 18, 127, 
262, 2 77 

majority rule in Conservative 
tradition, 33-34, 57. 65, m 
American political tradition, 
72, 75, in early American 
conservatism, 112-113, 122- 
123, in laissez-faire con- 
servatism, 140, in modem 
American conservatism, 191, 

MallocJc, W H , 272 
Malthus, Thomas, 131 
man, nature of, 8S, 179, in 
Conservative tradition, 21- 
27. 3*. 32. 43. 52. 61. &4, 
m American political tradi- 
tion, 71, 7S, in early Ameri- 
can conservatism, 99, ni- 
ls 2, in laissez-faire con- 
servatism, 132-133, *44. «n 
modern American conserva- 
tism, 183-185, 266, in The 
Federalist, 105-106 
Manion, Clarence, 172, 189, 


Manly, Chtsly , 172, 286 
Mannheim, Karl, 277 
Marsh, James, 126 
Marshall, John, 107, 115, 118, 
140, 265 

Marwitz, Fnednch voa der, 


Marx, H L,)r^ 285 
Marx, Karl. 131 



Mason, Alpheus T , 279, 2S3 
Mason, George, 67 
Mason, Noah, 170 
materialism, 47. S9. 62, 130, 
153. 154. 195. 201. 2°3, 
223, 26a 

Mather, Cotton, 100 
Matthews, J B , 17a 
Maude, Angus, 27a 
Maurras, Charles, 277 
Macaulay, Thomas, 239 
McCarthy, Joseph R , 168, 
171. 175. 177-17& 244. 

McCloy, John, 174 
McCosh, James, 150 
McGovern, William M , ai, 

29, 224, 262, 390 
McKinley, Wnbam, 147, 179 
McKitnck, Enc L , 283 
Mencken, H L , 159, 213 
Memam, Charles E , 280, 282 
Mettemich, 53. aig, 233, 277, 

Meyer, Frank S , 89, 17a, 224, 
274. 287 

Meyers, Marvin, 280 
Michels, Roberto, 277 
middle class, 82, 153, 181- 
182, 185, 215 

Mill, John Stuart, 18, 154, 261 
Millar, Moorehouse F X., 276 
Miller, Perry, 280 
Miller, Samuel F , !44 
Miller, William, 151, 281, 285 
Mills, C Wnght, 4, 180, 181, 
283, 291, 292 
Milton, John, 48 
Mises, Ludwig von, 17a, 208, 

Mitchell, Broadus, 108 
Modem Age, 223, 27s, 288 
Moley, Raymond, 52, 172, 
185, 186, 191, 194, 283 
Molnar, Thomas, 277 
Monroe, James, 118 
morality, 39-40, in Conserva- 
tive tradition, 25-26, 34, in 
American political tradition, 
76, in laissez-faire conserv- 
atism, 133, 211, in modem 

American conservatism, 267- 

Mure, Paul EVmei, 158-159, 
160, 219 

Morgenthau, Hans J , 225, 

291, 292 

Monson, S E , 84, 225, 292 
Morley, Fein, 172, 195, 287 
Moms, Gouvemeur, 107 
Moser, Justus, 277 
Moses, Robert. 173, 195, 285 
Mosier, R D , 279 
MuldenJeld, Hans, 277 
Muir, Ramsay, 57-58 
Mullendore, William C , 290 
Muller, Adam, 277 
Murphy, Cardncr, 23 
Murray, John Courtney, 23a 
Murray, Philip, 94 
MyidaJ, Cunnar, 68, a79 
myth, ajo 

National Review, 171, 178, 
246, 287 

Negro, in U S , 330, 246, 248 
Neill, Thomas P , 276 
Neumann. Sigmund, 277, 283 
Nevms, Allan, 84, 217, 225, 

New Deal, 3-4, 91-92, 149. 
161-162, 170, 173, 175. 

188, 236, 24a 

New Freedom, 90-91, 92, 150 

174. 2QO 

New York Times, 174, 290 
Newman, Cardinal, 272 
Niebuhr, Reinhold, 308, 225, 
236, 260, 263, 275, 279. 
283, 284 

Niemeyer, Cerhart, 225, 262, 

Nietzche, Fnedrich, 131 
Nuhet, R A , 224, 226, 274 
Nixon, H C , 229 
Nixon, Richard M , 173, 178- 



Norton-Taylor, Duncan, 184, 

Noire Dame, University of, 

232, 276 

Nourse, Edwin G , 285 

Novalis, 277 

Oakeshott, Michael, 273 
Oliver, Rev da, 225 
Ortega y Gasset, ]os£, 35, 277 
Orwell, George, 209 
Osgood, Herbert L , 280 
Ohs, Harrison Gray, 1x6 
Owsley, Frank, 229, 275 

Padover, Saul K , 2 80 
Paine, Tom, 56, 116 
Palmer, Paul, 287 
Pargellis, Stanley, 49-50, 281, 

Paikes, Henry B , 279 
Partington, Vernon L , 279 
Party, Stanley, 225. 274 
parties, pohtical see two- 
party system 

Paschal, J Francis, 139, 28a 
Paterson, Isabel, 287 
Paton, William A , 17a, 289 
patriotism, Jo, 47 75, 202, 
233-23 4 See oho loyalty 
Paul, Arnold M , 28a 
Peale, Norman Vincent, lx, 
194, 209, 259 
Peckham Rufus W, 149 
Peel, Sir Robert, 272 
Pegler, Westbrook, 172, 286 
Pendleton, Edmund, 10a 
Percy, Lord, 272 
Perry, Arthur L ; 148 
Perry, Ralph Barton, 279 
Persons, Stow, 2 78 
Peterson, Merrill D , 279 
Pettengill, Samuel B , 172, 


Phelps, E J , 141 
Phillips, Norman R , 278 
Pickthom, Kenneth, 272 
Pitney, Mahlon, 136-137 
Plato, 16, 223 271 
Plowdeeper, Henry, 286 
pluralism, 28, 75 
plutocracy, 155-156 , 160 
Pollock, Jackson, 181 
Populism, 90, 129, 148 

Potter, David M , 69 
Potter, Stephen, 240 
poujadisme, 170, 250-251 
Pound, Roscoe, 285 
power, diffusion of in Con- 
servative tradition, 30, 33, 

38, 65, in American politi- 
cal tradition, 79, m early 
American conservatism, 106, 
111-113, 122-123, in lais- 
sez-faire conservatism, 138, 
in American Conservatism, 

pragmatism, 51, 214 
prejudice, 22 
prescription, 2g, 65 
Presidency, U S , 104, 118, 
142, 177. 19a 
Pnnce, A. E , 274 
progress, 28-29, 6 5, 145, 154, 
242, 266, 269 See also 
change, reform 
progresmism, American, 8 s- 
94, 129, 148, 162, 213, 
present status, 236, 244- 

property, 152-153. 233, in 
Conservative tradition, 37- 

39, 49. 52-53. 57. 6s, in 
American political tradition, 
76, 206, in early American 
conservatism, 114, 118, m 
laissez-faire conservatism, 
136-137. 139, m modem 
American conservatism, 186- 
187, 267-268, as basis of 
suffrage, 118 

Prothro, J W , 282, 283 
prudence, 26, 63 
pseudo-cons ervabsm, 168, 

178, 250, 258 See also 
public service, 252-254 
Puritanism, 25, 125, 133, 150, 
pohtical theory, 98-100 

Queeny, E M , 290 
Quincy, Josiah, 118 

racism, 159, 168 
radicalism, 45, 63-64, 83, aio, 
defined, 11-22, in America, 
76-77, 180 See also Left 
Rand, Ayn, 169, 288 


Randall, Clarence, 173, 208, 

Randall, James G , 90 
Randolph, John, 118, 125 
Ranney, A , 291 
Ransom, John Crowe, 229, 


Raymond, Fred 1 , 290 
reaction defined, 13-14, in 
America, 77-78, 124, 169- 

3 0, 177-178, 249 See also 
Read, Leonard, 172, 184, 287 
reason, 16, Conservative atti- 
tude toward, 49-51, 61-62, 
63, in Conservative tradi- 
tion, 22, 65 

reform, 31, 32, 51, 56, 120- 
130, 145, American attitude 
toward, 83-84, 216, con- 
trasted with change, 94-96 
See oho change 
religion, 34, 158, and Con- 
servatism, 22-23, 42-44. 5*. 
in American political tradi- 
tion, 76, in American prac- 
tice, 149-150. in laissez- 
faire conservatism, 143, 
211-212, in modem Ameri- 
can conservatism, 192, 268 
See oho Christianity, 

Reppher, Agnes, 51, 159 
representation, 33, 104 
Republican Party, 129, 147, 

160, 170. 174. 244. *45. 
246-247, 286 

Reuther, Walter, lx, 165, 171, 
178, 24S 

revolution, 11, 14, 53-54 
Rtchberg, Donald R , 285 
Riemer, Neal, 281 
Riesman, Das id, 279, 292 
Right defined, 15, 108-109, 
In America, 96, 97-127, 

128-132, 154, 155. 162, 

163-182, 197-19S. 202, 215, 
237, 240-246 

rights of roan, 32, 34, 36, 136- 
l 37. *4 4. reciprocity with 
duties, 38-39 65 
Robinson, Edward Arlington, 
„ J59 

Robinson, James Harvey, 44- 

Roche, John P , 284 
Rockefeller, John D , sr , 13s, 
152, 203 

Rockefeller, John D , jr , 145' 

Rockefeller, Nelson, 174, 251 
Rogow, A A , 278 
Rohden, P R , 2 77 
Roosevelt, Eleanor, 165, 171. 
180, 181, 186 

Roosevelt, Franklin D , 3, 67, 
161, 165-166, 168, 171, 175, 
216, 220, 222, 235, political 
ideas, 91-92 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 67, 129, 
160, as "conservative," 90- 

Root, Ehhn, 147, 151, 265 
Ropke Wilhelm, 172, 277 
Ross, R C , 284 
Roy, Ralph, 290 
Rubin, Louis D , jr , 288 
Rudolph, Frederick, 243, 284 
Ruffin, Edmund, 126 
Ryan, John A., 232, 276 

St. Augustine, 16, 19, 27O 
St Thomas Aquinas, 16, 19. 
276. 292 

Samtsbuiy, George, 272 
Salisbury, Marquess of, 27a 
Saltonstall, Leverett, 181 
Santa) ana, Ceorge, 159 
Saturday Evening Post, 173 
Sawyer, George, 126 
Scanlan, James P , 281 
Schlesmger, Arthur M , sr , 
83-84, 279 

Schlesmger, Arthur M , Jr . 

viu, 171, 241. 260, 284 
Schoeps, Hans Joachim, 277 
science, 206, 231-232 
S<»tt. Sir Walter, 124, 27a 
Sears, Laurence, 284 
security, 35, 188-189 
Senate, U S , 142 
separation of powers, 140 
Shanahan, W 0 , 277 
Shays, Darnel, 87 
Sheen, Fulton J , 276 
Shepard, Arthur C , 186 
Shields, Currin V , 80, 279 
Simms, William Gilmore, 1*6 



Simon, Yves R , 276 
Simons, Henry C , 290 
slavery, m U S , 69, 8g, 119, 
124, 128 

Skchter, Sumner, 290 
Smith, Adam, 131, 198 
South, Gerald L K , 168 
Smith, Page, 284 
Smith, T V , 379 
Smith, William A., 136 
social contract, 31 
Socialism, 41, 77, 92, 129, 17S 
Social Security, 92, 169, 176 
society, 7-8, 9, a2 , 51, 52, 
342, m Conservative tradi- 
tion, 24, 27-31. 33. 35-36, 
65, in American political 
tradition, 80-81, 206, in 
American practice, 207, in 
early American conserva- 
tism, 120-123, in laissez- 
faue conservatism, 142-143, 
154, in modern American 
conservatism, 192-193. 201, 
in American Conservatism, 

Sokolsky, George, 172, 286 
South, U S, 68, 119-124, 
126, 176, 226-232, 246- 
348. 275-276 
Southey, Robert, 272 
Soviet Union, 175 
Spahr, Walter 172, 285 
Spencer, Herbert, 131. *5°. 
151, 152. 159, 161, 198, 
208, 226, influence in 

America, 150-151 
Spitz, David, 284, 291 
Square Deal, 90-91, 02 
Stahl. F J , 277 
"stake-in-society,” 11 8 
states rights, 124 
staUstn, 40-42, 73, 249 
Stedman, Murray, 291 
Stephen, Sir James Fibiames. 

Stevenson, Adlat 93-94, ib5> 
180, 18G, 208, 222, 225. 

Shgfer, George, 284 
Snmson, Henry L , 174. 290 
Stoke, H W , 284 
Stone, Fdward 288 
Stone, Harlan Fiske, 151 
Story, Joseph, 118, 119, 125 

Stoughton, William, 100 
Strauss, Leo, 225, 275 
Strout, Cushing, 284 
suffrage, 24, 117-118, 138 
Sumner, William Graham, 
131, 132, 136, 145. 147- 

148, 153. 155, *61, 183, 

194, 226, 260, 265, quoted, 
134-135, 13S, 139, 144 
Supreme Court, U S , 92, 
141, 144, 149, 177. 191. 

cases, us, 133, 136-137. 
139, 141, 144-145. *26, 

*31. 244 

Sutherland, George, 139, 149, 

Sutton, F X , 284 
Swisher, Carl B , 282 

Taft, Charles T , 174 
Taft, Robert A, 173, 177» 
180, 196, 244, political 

ideas, 182-193, 198-201, 

224-225, 260, 263, 285 
Taft, William Howard, 147 
Tame, Hyppohte, 277 
Tannenbaum, Frank, 291, 29a 
tariff, 139, 148 
Tate, Allen, 229, 275 
Tennessee Valley Authority, 
83, 92, -76 

T< nnyson. Loro, 20-29 
Thayer, W M , 14? 

Thompson, Kenneth, 291 
Thoreau, Henry David, 131 
Thurmond, otxom, 17° 
Tiedeman, Christopher, 148 
TocqueviJe, Alexis de, 125. 


10, Ralph de, 172, American, 101 
totalitaria ni sm, 14, 18, 62, 83, 

tradition, 16, 23, 44 , 5 1 . 53 . 
65. 257 

traditionalism, lo, 14, 47, 74, 
168, 194, an 
Tnlling, Lionel, 217-218 
Truman, Harry S , 165 
fucker, Nathaniel Beverly, 


Twiss, Benjamin EL, 282 
two-party system, U S , 55, 
79-80, 165, 177, 246-247. 


ultra -conservatism, U S, 13, 

170-173, 174-179, 180, 250- 
351, 2S6-288 
Underhill, Frank H , 374 
unions see labor 
United Nations, 170, 175 
United States as conservative 
country, 78-96, future of, 

348-249. 269-370 

U 5 Chamber of Commerce, 
173 „ 

unity, 28, 33, 74-75, 177, 242 
Utley, Freda, 173 
Utley, S Wells, 386 
Utley, T E , 272 
utopia, 3, 20, 45,77 
Valentine, Alan, ago 
Van Den Haag, Ernest, 287 
Varney, Harold Lord, 172 
Veblen, Thorstein, 7, 213, 282 
Vemllot, Louis, 277 
Viereck, Peter, 21, 35, 43, 
222-223, 262, 263. 265, 
*71. *74, 284 
violence, 13-14, 48 
virtue see morality 
Vivas, EUseo, 225 
Voegelin, Enc, 172, 275 
Vose, Clement E , 292 
Walker, Das id B, 281 
Walker, Edwin A 171 
Walker, Francis A , 148, 290 
Wallace, Henry, 165 
Wallich, Henry C, 174, 225 
Walsh, Correa M , 281 
Walter, E V , 284 
Ward, Nathaniel, 100 
Warner, W Lloyd, 8t, 279 
Warren, Austin, 282 
Warren, Earl, 174, 176 
Warren, Robert Penn, 229 
Washington, George, 87, 102, 
l°7. US, 264 

weaver, Richard, 223, 226, 
231. 237, 252, 262, 274, 
275, 276 2S8 

Webster, Darnel, 118, 125, 

Wefcli, Rotert, 168 
welfare state. 165, 190-101 
Wells. David A., 148 
Wendell, Barrett, 159 
Wes tin, Alan, 292 
Wharton, Edith, 159 

Wheeler, Harvey, 384 
Wherry, Kenneth, 170 
Whig Party, 119. 142 

Whiggery, in early America, 

White, Morton, 284 
White, R J , 29, 43. 271 
White, W S,285 
Whiteside, Andrew G , 377 
Whitman, Walt, 4, 131 
Whyte, William H„ 208, 284. 

Wic£ , Karl, 277 
Wilhelmsen, F D, 224. 232. 
25C, 276 

Willard, Samuel, 100 
Williams, Robin, 279 
Williams, Roger, 85, 86, 2®7 
Wills, Garry, 288 
Wilson, Charles E , 246 . 

Wilson, Francis G , 223, 226, 

237. 274, 376, 277. *79 
Wilson, James, 107 
Wilson, Woodrow, 85-88^129, 
ISO, J89, 235, 282, as con- 
servative," 90-91. 95 . 

Wmtbrop, John, 99-100, 120 
Wisconsin Idea, 90-91 
Wise, John. 86 
Wolfe, A B , 7, 278 
W'olin, Sheldon, 273 
Wollheira, Richard, 273 
Wood, Henry, 148 
Wood, Neal, 373 
Woolsey, Theodore Dwight, 

Wordsworth, William, 272 
Workman, William, 288 
Wormser, Rene A , 286 
Worsthorne, Peregrine, 372 
Worthy, J C , 39° 

Wnght.B F,ir,74 278 
, Wright, David McCord, 225, 

290 , „ 

, Wright, Esmond, 284 
, Wnston, Henry M-, 173* , 95> 
225, 286 

Wyllie, Inin C . 282 
Youmans, Edward L*. 150 
Young Americans for Free- 
dom, 17* 

Young. Stark, 239 
Zoll, Donald A-, 225, 274 
Zoll, Allen, 172